L.A. Hearing Justifies CAGW’s Caution on the Cloud

Today, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the second amendment to the Computer Sciences Corporation’s (CSC) contract with the city of Los Angeles. As part of the contract amendment, CSC will not seek reimbursement of the $250,000 advance intended as an incentive for the city to encourage other government users to adopt Google, and Google will pay the city for GroupWise costs during the term of the contract and any extensions beyond that, beginning July 1, 2011.

In the report summary accompanying the second amendment to the contract, Gerry Miller, the city’s Chief Legislative Analyst, stated that the amendment to the CSC contract “was necessary because Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) regulations are currently incompatible with cloud computing and law enforcement e-mail users cannot be migrated at this time.”

If the city had looked at all available options and done proper research in preparation for the procurement process, as spelled out in CAGW’s Cloud 201 guide, officials would have realized that by using a hybrid combination of public and private cloud infrastructure solutions, the requirements of CJIS could have been met. Weighing the risks and finding the best solutions prior to finishing the procurement process could have prevented costly delays and renegotiations.

As demonstrated by the federal government’s cloud migration plan requested by the Obama administration under its 25 point plan for transforming federal IT management, 13 separate agencies have identified email as a service to migrate to cloud services. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is one of those agencies taking a hybrid approach to cloud solutions, announcing plans to combine public and private cloud infrastructures based on security requirements for each application. DHS has already taken steps to move its Customs and Border Patrol email systems to a private cloud as part of its data center consolidation initiative.

“While CAGW applauds the move by the city of Los Angeles to seek restitution for unexpected liabilities from the original contract,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz, “we warn other public officials to proceed cautiously and review the needs and requirements of the end users before they begin to use cloud computing tools. A city council member stated during today’s meeting that Los Angeles was moving in uncharted territory and security issues identified by LAPD were unexpected, yet CAGW cautioned the city as early as August 2009 about cost and privacy issues associated with Google Apps. As other cities and jurisdictions secure cloud solutions, they should look to Los Angeles’ experience as a cautionary tale and take pains to ensure that the solution they choose does not negatively impact taxpayers or put critical information at risk.”

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.