Letters to the editor

Stop Bickering

I am writing in response to the anonymous letter "Contracting out is risky" [FCW, Oct. 1] that points a crooked finger at fellow U.S. citizens. I take offense to this letter, which said that we as Americans are at risk because contractors are allowed to perform work for our government.

First, the opinion of the author of this letter plays right into the hands of the terrorists by pitting law- abiding American against law-abiding American. Rather than being suspicious of terrorists, they want us to be looking over our shoulders at our neighbors. Second, I have been a contractor for more than 16 years, and I take the letter-writer's opinion personally. I know for a fact that at every government agency I have supported or worked with during my years in the Army, every contractor goes through just as intense a security check as the government workers he or she supports.

Third, the government and its agencies have used contractors for many reasons for many years. Government employees and contractors alike have worked as a team throughout my career, so I do not think the letter-writer represents reality. I suspect the author is really upset about the use of contractors rather than government people and is using this unfounded "risk" as a smoke screen for his or her own personal bias.

Americans and civilized people around the world should be pulling together to defeat the terrorist infestation rather than bickering among ourselves.

Name withheld by request

Turning to Feds

Milt Zall certainly hit the nail on the head in his Oct. 15 FCW column, "More feds, not fewer." I've been thinking much the same thing, but he is the first person I have noticed saying it publicly.

Airline security, when entrusted to the private sector, was mostly for show and done as cheaply as possible. As soon as the Sept. 11 attacks happened, politicians of every political stripe suddenly were jumping on the bandwagon of federalizing airport security, yet about half of them are in the camp that says that the private sector can do a better job than the federal government at any task. I hope the next time they are tempted to say that, they think of that smoking pile of rubble in lower Manhattan.

What's next? I trust you have noted, as I have with a mixture of amusement and outrage, that the insurance industry now wants the government to get involved as the insurer of last resort. The private sector will make all the money, of course, but if they don't have enough in reserve to accommodate their liabilities, the American taxpayer is supposed to bail them out.

All I can say is that we certainly live in curious times.

Chris Oberlin

Wheaton, Md.

IT Workers Wanted?

This is regarding the government's current hiring practice for information technology personnel.

I'm currently a federal employee. I have more than four years of solid programming experience. I have applied for several positions requiring my skills. The positions I have applied for have been with agencies having multiple positions to fill. My question is this: How can these agencies say they have trouble finding skilled IT workers when after at least six months, a resume reflecting strong programming skills gets no reply, no notice of ranking or even a thanks-but-no-thanks letter?

Here are the issues that trouble me most:

n Is the applicant expected to accept that the position applied for is not going to be filled for a year or two?

n Does being a current government employee taint my viability as an IT candidate?

n Why do human resources personnel seem to do their best to not keep the applicant informed of his or her status in a current so-called hiring or recruitment effort? What good is it if your contact person has no idea of when the position will be filled or when applicants will be scored?

n I've used the online resume service and applaud the effort of those that created it. But if the hiring process at the agency or the Office of Personnel Management remains a huge black hole, then the online resume builder is useless.

I ask, where is the real problem with finding skilled IT workers? Has anyone else encountered these obstacles? Is outsourcing the answer rather than hiring an applicant already on the government payroll?

My current career objective is to keep my IT skills in the government. If that's not what the government wants, then I wish they would inform me.

Name withheld by request

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