Letter to the editor

This is in regard to the letter to the editor, "IT Workers Wanted?" [Federal Computer Week, Nov. 5, 2001].

It is not just federal employees who find fault with the government's hiring practices for information technology personnel. As an unemployed IT professional, I have applied for several federal jobs. It has become very obvious that many (if not most) are aimed at favoring current federal employees. In general, I have identified about 176 federal jobs in the past 11 months that correspond to my profile. However, I am excluded from applying for more than 90 percent of them.

One of the major problems I see with the federal job system is its "in-breeding" — the result of constantly hiring from within. The federal government is in dire need of fresh blood, especially in the IT field. I have found the system to be stacked against outsiders.

Consider the following statements from federal job postings:

* Applications will be accepted from current federal employees serving under a career or career conditional appointment, candidates with reinstatement eligibility, or candidates eligible for special appointing authority. Veterans who are preference eligibles or who have been separated from the armed forces under honorable conditions after three or more years of continuous active service may apply.

* Applications will be accepted from current federal employees serving under a career or career conditional appointment, candidates with reinstatement eligibility, or candidates eligible for special appointing authority. Veterans Employment Opportunities Act-eligible veterans may apply.

* Priority consideration will be given to Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP) applicants who meet advertised requirements.

* This position is being filled under the Forest Service Merit Promotion Plan. Individuals certified by an Agriculture Department agency as displaced in the commuting area under the USDA Career Transition Assistance Plan will receive selection priority, if determined to be well-qualified.

* Open to 30 percent-disabled veterans; transfer eligibles to the same or lower grade than the highest grade previously held on a permanent basis; reinstatement eligibles to the same or lower grade than the highest grade previously held on a permanent basis; those eligible for under Executive Order 12721; other eligibles (current or former employees of Action, Peace Corps, VISTA, Postal Career Services, Postal Rate Commission, Panama Canal Commission, or other agencies). See the Air Force Job Kit for more information regarding listed eligibilities.

* Knowledge of administrative policies and processes within a federal agency (provide information on administrative management policies and role in managing or implementing them).

* ICTAP eligibles: Current or former employees displaced from non-Defense Department agencies. Individuals seeking ICTAP eligibility must submit a copy of their reduction in force separation notice and a copy of their most recent performance rating.

* Who may apply: All appointable employees of the Defense Contract Management Agency East, Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program eligibles (30 percent or more disabled veterans), Veteran's Readjustment Appointment eligibles, and persons eligible for appointment under the Persons with Disabilities Program.

What I find more insidious is the practice of writing job requirements that are "targeted" at a specific individual. That is, containing specific requirements that narrow the selection to a "pre-selected" individual. This practice appears to be quite common and is not hard to spot.

Then there is the practice of making the "open" period as tight as possible (I've seen periods as short as seven days, and that includes weekends and holidays), while "selection" periods go to ridiculous lengths. If you ever hear back, it can be anywhere from 45 days to more than 112 days. I suspect this is to eliminate "outside" applications and discourage applicants.

Name withheld by request

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