Los Angeles County will migrate its more than 100,000 government employees to Microsoft’s Office 365 for Government over the next year, the company announced on Wednesday in what is the computing giant’s latest win in the Golden State.
In an interview with StateScoop, Richard Sanchez, Los Angeles County’s chief information officer, said the county selected Microsoft, in part, because the company’s Office 365 solution is compliant with both the Criminal Justice Information Services standard and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
“The compliance standards were always a major issue for us as our law enforcement personnel need a system with the proper security procedures in place in order to work with the rest of the county,” Sanchez said. “When our Sheriff’s Office learned the system with CJIS complaint, they studied it in detail and were encouraged with the security provisions in place.”
With more than 9 million residents, Los Angeles County is the most populated county in the nation and features a workforce on par with the size of some of the largest federal agencies. But it is also subject to the rigorous compliance issues that face local governments as they look to upgrade their technology.
Those issues are most prominent in dealing with law enforcement agencies and health care, as both deal with private information that must remain secure. That has been a major hurdle facing local technology adaptation, one that Microsoft has seemed to solve going through getting CJIS and HIPAA compliance.
Microsoft has seen a number of government organizations go with Office 365 for those reasons. Los Angeles County joins the counties of San Clara and San Mateo, along with some major California cities, such as San Francisco, San Diego, Long Beach, San Jose, Oakland and Anaheim, as Office 365 clients.
Governments have unique and rigorous requirements for regulatory compliance around security and privacy that require vendors to make deep investments in these areas. Previously, the city of Los Angeles attributed the failed deployment of Google Apps at its police department to the service’s inability to meet CJIS regulations.
Cities and counties in California that use Office 365 will join a growing list of other government organizations, from the U.S. Agriculture Department, the Federal Aviation Administration and to states like Minnesota and California and cities like New York and Chicago.
“For us it’s been about how can we bring these cloud-based technologies to market and reduce the friction that governments face,” Stuart McKee, the chief technology officer for Microsoft’s state and local business, told StateScoop. “When you look at the roles of government and the types of services they provide, its imperative that they have the best technologies at their disposal. We’ve worked hard to be able to bring them these in the ways that they need so they can do their job.”
Peter Loo, who serves as Los Angeles County’s deputy chief information officer, said the transition will also help enable the county’s workforce to be more mobile as the organization’s SharePoint services will all be in one place and give employee better access to content out in the field.
“This gives us a lot more flexibility,” Loo said.
Sanchez said the transition will help Los Angeles County to streamline its operations. The county currently uses 15 different enterprise license agreements across its more than 30 primary agencies and this will allow them to consolidate those into one agreement, as each department has the same access to Microsoft cloud services.
Second, the agreement ensures the county only pays for those services in use by existing employees. This represents a savings as staffing levels across various departments fluctuate from year-to-year or through seasonal workers, such as during election and tax seasons.
Finally, by moving to a cloud-based service, the county was able to avoid the type of large upfront capital expense traditionally required to modernize and consolidate systems.
Or as Sanchez put it, “this is going to make life a lot easier for us.”