Editor's Note: In October, the City of Los Angeles – the second largest city in the United States – decided to switch its email to Google, a decision supported in a unanimous vote by the Los Angeles City Council. We've invited Randi Levin, Chief Technology Officer for the City of Los Angeles and general manager of the city's Information Technology Agency, to provide more insight into the reasons behind this decision.

Los Angeles is going Google. After a rigorous evaluation process to select the best email solution for the city, Los Angeles recently decided to move all 30,000 city employees to Google Apps from our existing GroupWise email system.

City employees fulfill a range of important functions – from policing our streets to supplying water and power to city residents and businesses, and from operating our libraries to designing and building wastewater treatment plants and other public facilities. We want to provide all these employees with modern tools that help them do their jobs. Some of the benefits our employees will see from the suite of Google applications include:
  • Improved collaboration. Much of the city's work requires multiple people – even multiple departments – to work together. With instant messaging, video conferencing, and simultaneous review and editing of documents by multiple people, employees will have better tools to work together on projects.
  • Easier remote access. In a fast-paced city government, people often need access to work information when they're not at work. With Google, employees will be able to access their information from any computer with an internet connection, as well as from their mobile phones.
  • Expanded storage. With Google, we can provide employees 25x the email storage they have today, saving them from having to make difficult decisions about which emails to keep or delete.
In addition to empowering employees across the city, everyone will benefit from Google's security controls, which will provide a higher level of security for City data than exists with our current system.

Google Apps will also help conserve resources in the city's Information & Technology Agency (ITA), which is responsible for researching, testing & implementing new technologies in ways that make Los Angeles a better place to live, work and play. Because the email and other applications are hosted and maintained by Google, ITA employees who previously were responsible for maintaining our email system can be freed up to work on projects that are central to making the city run.

By ITA estimates, Google Apps will save the city of Los Angeles millions of dollars by allowing us to shift resources currently dedicated to email to other purposes. For example, moving to Google will free up nearly 100 servers that were used for our existing email system, which will lower our electricity bills by almost $750,000 over five years. In short, this decision helps us to get the most out of the city's IT budget.

The decision to move to Google Apps was not taken lightly. The city issued a request for proposals and received 15 proposals, which were evaluated by city officials. The top four proposals were invited to give oral presentations, with CSC's proposal for Google Apps receiving the highest marks. This decision was reviewed and discussed by the Los Angeles City Council which, after a healthy debate, voted unanimously to move forward with Google Apps.

Learn more about this installation here:

Many other government agencies across California and around the country have already reached out to us to learn more. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, Los Angeles found Google's system availability of 99.9% and service levels for response in the event of an issue to be equivalent – if not better – to what we could provide ourselves. Together with the cost savings, it all adds up to a compelling argument for government agencies both small and large.

We still have work ahead of us, but we're excited to be moving forward with Google and CSC to bring state of the art email and collaboration tools to the employees of the City of Los Angeles.

Randi Levin, Chief Technology Officer, City of Los Angeles

Posted by Dan Israel, Google Enterprise team