Google blows deadline for Los Angeles email switch; can’t meet LAPD needs

Google has blown the deadline to move the City of Los Angeles‘ email system and other applications to the Internet Giant’s highly touted cloud computing system because it hasn’t been able to meet the security requirements of Los Angeles Police Department.

“Google comes in with this sweetheart deal that was supposed to be state of the art — supposed to make wonders — and obviously they haven’t performed,” Councilman Dennis Zine said in a committee meeting last week.

Besides failing to meet security concerns, an LAPD report to City Council says, the new system has performance issues.  Fifty police department employees are testing the Google system and report they “consistently experienced delays in receiving email, up to several hours.”  The department also needs to know whether particular emails have been delivered, opened/read and deleted, which the system can’t do. Nor does the new  system distinguish between a CC or BCC email recipient. In other words the Google solution can’t do what the old one could and what the police department needs.

About 6,000 City employees and 13,000 LAPD users remain on the old system.

That means  somebody will have to pay as much as  $414,000 for the rest of the year for software licenses to continue to use the old system, according to a report from the City Administrative officer. That’s money the financially strapped city simply doesn’t have.

According to David Sarno in the Los Angeles Times, Google has said it will to cover the licenses for the old system through the end of October.

You’d think all this would give Google pause, but instead its  flacks in are calling this a mere bump in the road and cite Los Angeles as a reason all governments should move to the Google cloud.  Instead of contrition as the news broke over the weekend, Google forged ahead full-speed Monday with the announcement that GSA has given its new Government Cloud  Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification.

I don’t know what that implies about the Feds.

As far as the folks at the Googleplex are concerned, every government large or small should be rushing to sign up.  Those computer engineers sure have a lot of chutzpa, don’t they?

Instead of fixing what’s not working and figuring out how to meet the promises to Los Angeles that they failed to deliver before moving ahead, they are actually trying to sign up more government customers.

I think much of the problem stems from the Google geeks’ mindset. You throw a product out there in “Beta mode” and tinker with it until you finally get it right.  That may work if you have something like the original Gmail, which was aimed at individuals and stayed in “Beta” for  years. When you’re talking about systems for police departments with life and death issues sometimes at stake, such a cavalier attitude is almost criminal.

Published by John M. Simpson

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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