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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