Storms continue to rain on LA municipal cloud project

Controversy still swirls around CSC's Google email implementation in Los Angeles. What's the latest complaint?

Having largely eliminated its famous smog problem, the city of Los Angeles nevertheless continues to face cloud issues that apparently won’t dissipate.

First came delays in implementing Computer Sciences Corp. and Google’s five-year, $7.2 million contract  with the city to construct a cloud-based email system for all municipal workers, including the police department. The delays cost the contractors about $135,000 in reimbursements.

Then in August, Randi Levin, general manager of the city's Information Technology Agency, wrote to CSC contracts manager Michael Schneider saying that CSC had failed to meet security specifications required for some of the city's more sensitive departments, such as the LAPD.

As a result, CSC was told to implement the Google Apps Premier Edition (since renamed Google Apps for Government) and “to complete and comply with the security requirements of the City for all data and information.”

In response, CSC said new security requirements were added to the contract and the company is working with the city to meet those requirements.

CSC and Google also were told to implement a "second amendment" in the contract, which required them to pay for maintaining the Novell GroupWise system, which is being phased out, through Nov. 20, 2012.

Earlier this month Consumer Watchdog sent a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa asking for the city to "fully disclose immediately the extent to which Google has failed to comply with its contractual obligations to implement Google Apps for Government."

A Google spokesperson called it just the latest in a long list of press stunts from a group that works closely with Google competitors, but stopped short of naming them.

Now, a second watchdog organization is questioning the cost-savings calculations of the project, which initially was forecast to save the city $5.5 million over five years.

Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, wrote to Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti requesting all fiscal information about the 2009 contract under the California Public Records Act.

The request includes all recent city documents, those that CSC and Google have given to the city, and those relating to the total cost to taxpayers for the Google Apps deployment.

CAGW also wants “all documentation relating to a new estimate of savings for the cloud software solution now that only approximately 17,000 employees will be moving over to Google Apps instead of the 30,000 estimated in the original contract.”

A CSC statement responding to a request for comment said, “Today, more than 17,000 people in 36 of the city’s 40 departments are benefiting from the Google Apps cloud computing solution -- a money-saving, functionally superior and user friendly e-mail and collaboration system.”

The statement added that CSC and Google are still working on one final security requirement related to criminal justice services information.

CSC, of Falls Church, Va., ranks No. 11 on Washington Technology’s 2011 Top 100 list of the largest federal government contractors.