70,000 job applications lost or damaged by system outage

Editor's note:This story was modified after its orginal publication to clarify some information.

Federal job applications for 70,000 people were lost, partially lost or otherwise affected during the recent outage of an application support system connected to USAJobs.gov, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has confirmed.

OPM’s USAStaffing hiring management system, which connects to USAJobs.gov, was malfunctioning from Aug. 7 to Aug. 9 due to an “error” in the system, according to an Aug. 16 statement from OPM. The USAStaffing system was taken offline for repairs from Aug. 9 to Aug. 11.

All affected applicants have been notified and encouraged to resubmit their applications.

“On August 12, all 70,000 affected applicants and 54 agencies served by USA Staffing were notified individually so that any lost applications could be resubmitted,” Jennifer Dorsey, an OPM spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail message to Federal Computer Week on Aug. 16. "No individual security or data was compromised or breached at any point in time," she added.

Related story:

Some USAJOBS.gov job applications may be missing

It was not clear from the OPM statement how it determined that 70,000 applicants were affected, or what it meant to be "affected" by the outage. It also was not clear whether an exact count of lost applications was known, or whether all 70,000 affected people lost at least some data. Attempts to obtain additional clarification from OPM were not immediately successful.

The agency apologized for the inconvenience to job applicants whose submissions apparently were lost or partially lost.

“USA Staffing apologizes for any inconvenience and will continue to address any concerns or questions applicants or agencies may have,” Dorsey wrote.

USAJobs.gov remained operational during the period of the USAStaffing malfunction and outage, Dorsey said. However, because job applications submitted for positions at the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments and 52 other federal agencies through USAJobs.gov are processed through the USAStaffing system, those applications were affected by the USAStaffing malfunction.

According to Dorsey, an “error” occurred in the operation of the USAStaffing system from Aug. 7 to 9, following a planned outage to perform routine quarterly maintenance.

Once the error was identified, USAStaffing notified agencies and took the system offline “as soon as they determined this was the only way to make repairs,” Dorsey wrote. “The error was fixed and a clean backup to August 7th information was introduced to restore the system by 4am on August 11th.”

OPM’s USAStaffing is a Web-based hiring management system is used to post vacancies, receive and analyze job applications, and rank job applicants. It is connected to the USAJobs.gov portal.

The Health and Human Services Department and other agencies also have been involved in identifying and contact individuals whose applications were lost, and to extend hiring deadlines and take other corrective actions, according to an internal memo dated Aug. 12 circulating on an HHS Listserv and obtained by FCW.

“HHS has proactively extended all vacancies to Aug. 15 that close between Aug. 7 and Aug.10 to afford applicants additional time to apply/re-apply for vacancies,” the HHS memo said. HHS says it contacted the affected applicants directly in time for them ro re-submit their applications.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Government Cyber Insider tracks the technologies, policies, threats and emerging solutions that shape the cybersecurity landscape.


Reader comments

Mon, Nov 7, 2011 Kid

I know people that were affected by this. Their resume was submitted but never made it to the highering agency so they never got a fair chance to compete for a job before it closed. Simply saying "I'm sorry, try again" does not cut it here. Getting cheated out of a job like this is un-acceptable. It reminds me of when I am at the supermarket waiting in line for ever to check out. Then when I finally get to the counter, the clerk says, "sorry I'm going on break now, you will have to find another line." That too is unacceptable.

Thu, Oct 13, 2011

Some great comments, and while it may seem on the surface this may have been a great way to convenientlyescape from the impennding "Hiring Freeze" dilemna, the only thing close to a conspiracy that occured was really just malignant incompetence.

Fri, Aug 19, 2011 Mike

Here's what they said: '...an “error” occurred in the operation of the USAStaffing system from Aug. 7 to 9, following a planned outage to perform routine quarterly maintenance.' Here's some food for thought: This USA Jobs incident just coincidentally occurred right around the same time an entire "Hiring Freeze" was implemented! People that were already on lists to qualify and potentially be picked were struck from the lists (and the advertisement/cert was cancelled). As Vince Lombardi would say, "What the _ _ _ _ is going on around here!"

Thu, Aug 18, 2011 Editor

Editor's note: Some readers have apparently inferred that OPM's deadline to resubmit applications was two days before our report appeared, making our story unhelpful. In fact, as the story indicates, the Health and Human Services department extended the deadline for some of its position listings to Aug. 15 and informed applicants directly that they needed to resubmit their materials. We reported on HHS's action as an example of how agencies were responding to the data loss.

Thu, Aug 18, 2011

Why are there 70,000 applications? Should there even BE that many government jobs? The private sector should be the job creators and government should exist only for the limited functions defined in the Constitution. And here's the answer to the readers' comments about IT failures and incompetence: because it's ".gov"

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