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Press Release

Consumer Watchdog Warns Chicago Public Schools Of Google’s Los Angeles Failures As Nation’s Third Largest School District Considers Massive New Email System

CONTACT: , 310-292-1902; Jamie Court, 310-392-0522 x327; Carmen Balber, 202-629-3043

Tue, Dec 6, 2011 at 10:32 am

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Consumer Watchdog Warns Chicago Public Schools Of Google’s Los Angeles Failures As Nation’s Third Largest School District Considers Massive New Email System

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today warned the Chicago Board of Education to consider Google’s failures in implementing an email system for the City of Los Angeles as the seven members consider a new email and collaboration system for the nation’s third largest school district.

Chicago Public Schools have asked for proposals to implement an enterprise email, collaboration and archiving system for 45,000 employees and 430,000 students by next summer. The request for proposals asked for a solution for 500,000 users with the possibility of increasing to one million in the future. Google Apps is one of the solutions being proposed by seven bidders.  The proposals are expected to be considered at the board’s Dec. 14 meeting.

In a letter to the board Jamie Court, Consumer Watchdog President, and John M. Simpson, the group’s Privacy Project Director, warned:

“On its Google Apps For Government website the Internet giant cites Los Angeles as a success story. It is not. Rather it has been a saga of a series of missed deadlines, broken promises and an inability to deliver a system that meets security needs two years after the project was started.”

Read the letter here:

“In Los Angeles Google has been unable after two years to meet the security requirements of the Los Angeles Police Department,” wrote Court and Simpson. “This should not be surprising; the fact is that Google is an advertising company. This is where 96% of its revenue came from in 2010. It’s not a computer services company, so the resources it devotes to serving governments and school districts are small and the errors Google will continue to make will be huge.”

Google was supposed to provide email service to about 30,000 Los Angeles city employees.  Working with CSC, which is implementing the project, Google has managed to put only 17,000 city employees on the system.  Despite assurances two years ago when the project was launched, Google still cannot meet the security requirements of the Los Angeles Police Department and other city employees involved in law enforcement. 13,000 employees are unable to move to the Google system.

Last December Randi Levin, City of Los Angeles ITA general manager and chief technology officer, wrote Google and CSC about the city’s dissatisfaction. She said, “These failures are wholly unacceptable to the City of Los Angeles. CSC and Google have repeatedly committed to meet particular deliverables on specific dates, only to reveal, at the last minute, that the set deliverables/dates will not be met. CSC and Google’s behavior goes beyond a mere failure to communicate in a timely manner, and instead, on several occasions, has risen to the level of misrepresentation.”

Read Ms. Levin’s letter here:

Court and Simpson continued their warning:

“Google not only made misrepresentations to the city, but also continues to make them to potential Google Apps customers by using the inappropriate and deceptive video…We have urged city officials to demand that the Internet giant remove the video from its website so that other potential customers around the country will not be misled.

“It is out of that concern that we are writing you.   As you consider your alternatives in selecting an email solution, you should know that Los Angeles has not been a success story for Google by any stretch of the imagination.

“It has been a series of missed deadlines and failures to meet promises.  We urge you to give careful consideration to what has happened here before embarking on any solution in Chicago.”

According to Chicago Public Schools Department of Procurement and Contracts these are the seven entities that have proposed email solutions: Gaggle, Open Text, Inc./Solai & Cameron, Merit Network, SADA Systems, CSI Technology Outfitters and ePals Inc.,

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This post was written by:

John M. Simpson

- who has written 363 posts on Inside Google.

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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