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Los Angeles Police Department switch to Google e-mail system hits federal roadblock

Security requirements for storing law enforcement records could delay the LAPD's use of the system by at least a year.

November 03, 2010|By David Sarno, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Police Department has temporarily dropped efforts to adopt a new e-mail system run by Google Inc. after it ran up against federal security requirements for storing law enforcement records, city officials said Tuesday.

The new federal requirements, which the city and Google said they found out about in August, could delay implementing the system in the department by at least a year, city technology officials said. The latest wrinkle is a setback for Google's efforts to cut into Microsoft Corp.'s $20-billion-a-year office software business.

The Internet search giant beat Microsoft for the $7.25-million contract last year to provide e-mail and office software to the city's 30,000 employees. Half the city's workforce has moved to the Google system, but a series of security concerns has prevented the police department from adopting it.

The city's technology officials said in August that they expected the security issues to be resolved by early November, at which time the LAPD's 13,000 employees would be able to switch to the Google system.

But that same month, city officials said, they were surprised to find that the system had to address federal requirements for "securing law enforcement information on criminal activity."

Randi Levin, the city's chief technology officer, said she did not believe the new delay would be problematic for the contract.

"We have at the highest levels assurance from Google that we will meet this commitment — this is a very big marketplace, not just for Google but Microsoft too — so it behooves everybody to comply," Levin said.

Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs the company was working with the city on the security issues.

"Google has met all city's requirements to date, and was recently informed of new requirements that we are committed to meeting in a timely manner," Kovacs said.

City officials have said that if the LAPD did not adopt the Google system by the end of the fiscal year, which ends in June, the city would consider terminating the agreement, and possibly look into whether Google was in breach of contract.

LAPD employees have been testing Google's system since at least July, with as many as 1,900 personnel using a version of Google's Gmail software created for the city.

As Google and the city address the federal requirements, city officials said those employees will switch back to the city's previous e-mail software. That program, called GroupWise, is a 10-year-old system that many city employees have complained is slow and outdated.

The city will continue to have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the GroupWise licenses — an expense city officials had not included in the budget after Google won the contract. Levin said Google agreed to pay those costs until the LAPD security concerns were resolved.

david.sarno@latimes.com

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