Long Road Ahead
Despite the Office of Personnel Management's success with the online information technology job fair it and the CIO Council hosted in April, USAJobs, the agency's own employment Web site, needs an overhaul, according to an expert in such matters.
"I think [OPM director] Kay [Coles] James and [deputy director] Dan Blair are thinking hard about how to make OPM a customer-centered agency. They could start with USAJobs — where the hot jobs leave you cold," said Paul Light, vice president and director of the Brookings Institution's Center for Public Service, speaking June 4 on the state of the federal workforce at the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils' annual Management of Change conference in New Orleans.
Access to adequate funding is "a real question" for James and Blair — and so are the high turnover rates for federal employees who reach the three- to six-year point in their careers, as well as the growing gap between young federal employees and their more experienced colleagues, Light said.
In its ongoing quest to use technology to deliver information, the U.S. Postal Service announced June 4 that it is buying 40 Segway Human Transporters, the much-hyped gyroscope-controlled scooters produced by Segway LLC. Mail carriers are expected to mount up June 10 in Norman, Okla., and later this month in the Bronx, N.Y., and San Francisco. Testing will begin in Chandler, Ariz., and an undisclosed sixth state in August.
The decision to buy 40 Segways follows successful testing in Concord, N.H., and Tampa, Fla., last winter. The scooters, which can carry a postal worker and 35 pounds of mail, are intended to reduce the physical stress for letter carriers and speed mail delivery. The machines cost about $8,000 each, but there's no word on what USPS might be paying.
The Internal Revenue Service has bigger plans than ever, and one of them is creating a single service center to handle e-filing, according to Terry Lutes, director of the Electronic Tax Administration, at a meeting of the agency's advisory committee June 6.
While that plan waits in the wings, others are becoming reality. Among them are plans to give taxpayers free e-filing services as part of a consortium with industry. Another is extending the tax-filing deadline for e-filers. Other new services include giving taxpayers the tools to actually track their tax returns and learn the status of their refunds. But don't hold your breath waiting for a slick, sleek and customer-friendly IRS to emerge. Modernization at the IRS is a work in progress, and it won't happen in just one year, Lutes said.
Odds and Ends
Watch for proposed revisions to the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76. OMB expects to detail the changes in a Federal Register notice soon. A-76 sets the rules for determining whether the private sector can more efficiently perform a government service.
A cybersecurity Web site should be coming soon. Paul Kurtz, senior director for national security for the White House's Office of Cyberspace Security, said his office's Web site is not up yet but should go live this month. The site will enable citizens to submit questions and comments, he said.
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