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USAJobs: Lesson or warning?

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 PM

Reader Comments

Sat, Jan 7, 2012

In 09 we invited Monster to to help us with recruitment at our agency as we did not use USA jobs.Cleary they are a technology company.Their core competency is building relationships which they had down to grade school..They were proud of how they had refined the OPM advertisement from numerous pages to a few. When we went to DOD for approval to use them ; we were told no. OPM/USA JOBS is not Monster and we live with the results.

Wed, Nov 2, 2011 Larry DC

If the truth be known, the Federal CHCO's should get most of the blame for this debacle because they FORCED a reluctant OPM to take on this redo of USAJOBS project! When OPM balked, DHS and DOD offered their treasure and their "best" technical resources to ensure OPM success. Of course, OPM actually received pennys and technical employees and contractors who were rolling off FAILED projects. This was a recipe for disaster and that's what we have.

Tue, Oct 25, 2011

Giving credence to the facebook remark, at least they haven't had a drop in usage and have increased memberships... yet USAJobs has had a 60% drop in applications submitted...

Tue, Oct 25, 2011

"Every place I have ever worked in private industry has taken at least a month to get their bearings after installing a new system/application"... yeah I'd like to see IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Apple give an excuse like that when they release their product... I don't recall Facebook having any issues with their recent redesign.." All of the aforementioned software companies made mistakes, usually from a USER standpoint. Isn't the purpose of any project such as this to make the collection of needed information and the interface to input that information supposed to be EFFICIENT? And as to Facebook, their problem was defaulting everyone's security profile to what THEY thought was best for advertising generation, and the USERS have HATED the new changes at Facebook.

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 Contractor/Worst Enemy

OPM management was seduced by silver tongued contractors who lusted for the pot of gold that was the Monster contract. They were encouraged and enabled by senior HR executives at DHS and DOD who had just mismanaged their own HR IT contracts into the ground. What is wrong with the federal government who still naively believes that government and business can be partners? WRONG! The goal of business is to increase profits.... string out projects, increase headcount, push change orders, etc. The FEDs need to be the boss and they need to treat contractors like employees..... trusting, verifying and holding them accountable.

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