USAJobs Controversy

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    Sparks fly over broken site

    As the technical problems plaguing the new USAJobs website continue into a third week, Sen. John Kerry ( D-Mass.), called on Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel to intervene and to consider putting the website operation out for competitive bid.

    The federal job search Web portal, which is the third version of the site, was launched on Oct. 11 after the Office of Personnel Management spent 18 months developing it in-house. Since the debut, the agency has been addressing thousands of user complaints about operation of the site.

    In a letter on Oct. 26, Kerry asked VanRoekel to “intervene, investigate and resolve the problems with USAJOBS as soon as possible.”

    This quote, from a Federal Computer Week article by Alice Lipowicz, illustrates the problems that have plagued the job search site that is supposed to help individuals find work, especially with federal agencies, in today’s rough economic climate. The problem is that once the government took over operations from the previous contracted (and very experienced) operator,, things went haywire.

    With the page becoming a practically unusable money sink, the government is facing criticism from users and the media. What’s worse for them is that the main option for fixing the whole mess is taking the site completely offline or asking agencies to post job opportunities on their own sites, both of which are far from ideal.

    Bottom line, if you aren’t an expert, stick with someone who is. The government’s aim was to save money by taking the site’s operation in house, but without the experience and skill of behind it, the entire situation became an embarrassing mess.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is a writer, publicist and SEO associate for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]