The USAJobs fiasco is more than just a story of a system implementation gone awry. It renews the perpetual debate of insourcing vs. outsourcing.
By all accounts, the Office of Personnel Management had a good thing going with Monster.com. USAJobs ran smoothly, serving federal job listings up to prospective applicants based on their desired positions, locations and salary ranges. Now and then there would be a hiccup, but by and large users – applicants and hiring agencies alike – seemed pleased.
For the new version, launched in mid-October, OPM brought the work in-house. With the aid of some contractor support, OPM itself developed and hosted version 3 of the job-search site. And when it debuted, disaster struck almost instantly. Users couldn't get into the site, and when they did, they couldn't get the search results they wanted.
The problems persist even now, although OPM may be making some progress at fixing them. But leaders at other agencies are watching, and one must wonder: The next time an agency has a major public-facing system to develop and launch, will OPM's experience serve as a cautionary tale, or as a rich vein of lessons to learn from?
Time will tell.
Posted on Oct 21, 2011 at 7:26 PM16 comments
Guest entry by writer Brian Robinson.
Is the government always going to be unable to make pay-for-performance work?
It seems strange that no proposal yet has been able to unseat the General Schedule system, said Howard Risher, an independent consultant. There's not one true advocate for the GS system in government, and many critics, yet it persists as the best available option.
The most visible recent effort to tie pay to job performance, the Defense Department's National Security Personnel System, crashed and burned, just like most of the large-scale efforts before it.
“The DOD didn’t get buy-in early on for this,” said John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service. “It ended up being an overly elaborate system and managers were spending all of their time on it.”
However, Congress now seems content to just continue the current pay freeze and ignore the big issues, said Jon Desenberg, senior policy director for the Performance Institute. The people who really care about the issue have left government, he said, “and I have not been impressed by the depth of knowledge of the current freshman group of congressmen.”
Posted on Oct 05, 2011 at 7:26 PM6 comments
The nation has been whipsawed this year by budget arguments in Congress that run perilously close to forcing a shutdown before coming back from the brink, just briefly, before the whole cycle starts over again.
Beyond the obvious stress on federal employees, who can’t count on having a paycheck during the period when the shutdown looks possible, this isn’t good for anyone, except for posturing members of Congress. And maybe not even for them.
Congress didn't reach a final agreement on the fiscal 2011 budget until April, more than halfway through the fiscal year. And before that, the last budget Congress passed was on April 29, 2009. The country has been largely running on continuing resolutions, temporary stopgap measures that preserve existing or reduced levels of funding for a set period of time and then expire, starting the negotiations all over again.
This calendar year, those negotiations have been contentious enough that the very real chance of a shutdown has arisen three times (twice over spending bills, once over the debt ceiling), and there’ll be at least one more opportunity before the year ends. (That fourth chance will be in a different fiscal year.)
At least one member of Congress, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), tried to give her colleagues more incentive to pass a budget. A bill she introduced in June, the “Just Do Your Job Act of 2011” (HR 2372), would have defunded Congressional budget committees and majority leadership offices if Congress failed to pass a budget.
But her bill, despite having attracted six co-sponsors, was referred to the Committee on House Administration on the day it was introduced and went no further, according to the Library of Congress’s Thomas.loc.gov site. Buerkle's bill applied only to the budgets for fiscal years 2011 and 2012, but many FCW readers have similarly suggested that Congress should not get paid when it fails to pass a budget. However, given that the very people who can't get budgets passed are the ones who would vote on such a proposal, it seems like an unlikely step.
We’re not sure how to solve this problem, but we are pretty sure it’s going to become an increasingly dangerous problem if it’s not solved soon. The nation can’t function for long on stop-gap funding and angry rhetoric. Congress just needs to do its job.
Any solutions out there?
Posted on Sep 29, 2011 at 7:26 PM18 comments