3.0 reboot getting fail reviews from users

A day after the Office of Personnel Management launched its much-anticipated 3.0 federal job search website, the complaints were coming fast and furious on the program’s Facebook page.

“I remade my searches and got a blank,” wrote a USAJobs 3.0 user on Oct. 12. “I do believe the site is having technical difficulties,” wrote another user. “Obviously it comes and goes. Very frustrating!” summed up a third. Another graded the new website an “F.”

Linda Rix, co-chief executive of Avue Technologies, which operates job websites for several federal agencies, said system tests she performed on the USAJobs 3.0 website showed high failure rates: Out of 848 identical searches on Oct. 12, there were 601 application failures, which is a 71 percent failure rate. Out of 2,516 identical searches on Oct. 11, there were 412 failures, she said.

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“I think [OPM’s] problem is they may not have capacity in their data center,” Rix said in an interview. “They also may have buggy code. The most prevalent problem is application errors.”

Rix said the problems were affecting the entire system, not just a particular feature. "If it were me, I would take down the site," she said. Avue is not involved in the USAJobs site, which OPM has chosen to operate with its own employees rather than contractors.

OPM officials did not appear to be responding directly to the Facebook users on Oct. 12. They also did not respond to a request for comment on this article.

A day earlier, OPM officials unveiled the new version of USAJobs, which had been in development for over a year. The website previously was operated and hosted under a contract with, but now is operating and hosted by OPM on its own servers. In recent weeks, officials previously had said the insourcing of USAJobs would make the website more secure, with more functionality and greater search capabilities.

“OPM is proud to announce the successful implementation of USAJobs 3.0,” the personnel agency announced on Oct. 11.

Judging by performance of the new website, however, the application errors and bugs apparently will need to be addressed before users can make full use of the new capabilities.

The problems also may go even much deeper, Rix suggested.

OPM’s remake of, removing it from and developing and hosting the 3.0 version inhouse, may have been a seriously flawed decision, according to Rix, whose company runs job search websites for the Peace Corps, US Agency for International Development and US Forest Service, among others.

In addition to compromising USAJobs’ functionality, Rix claims the insourcing essentially was done for the wrong reasons and runs contrary to the White House’s Cloud-first guidance.

“What was driving [OPM’s decision] is control,” Rix said in an interview. “They want to get control so they can control pricing.” She was referring to the fees that OPM charges to federal agencies that utilize, which is nearly all agencies.

The fees are collected into OPM’s revolving fund, also known as its working capital fund. While federal agencies are not supposed to profit on their fee-for-service business lines, they are allowed to carry over and reinvest their working capital funds over multiple fiscal years. At OPM, while the agency’s budget is approximately $240 million, its working capital budget is about $1.7 billion.

“My basic issue is that the reason they in-sourced is so they could get a lock on the market so they can increase their fee-for-service business even more than they have,” Rix said. “You’ve got a federal entity using taxpayer dollars to replicate something available in the private sector that has been working for years.”

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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Reader comments

Thu, Oct 27, 2011 Disappointed DC

The new USAjobs website is “JUNK”!!!!!!!!!!! Often I can’t even open the site, due to high usage errors. I never had this problem with the old system. Next, all of the search results are gone and I took time to create them to support my needs - that sucks are a longtime users! Now after taking time to recreate the search, they don't work - I'm getting "ZERO" results back on every search. The IT support for this task did a “HORRIBLE” job . What happened to testing a system out, before you go live? Isn’t that IT 101!!!!!!!! Plan…Test…Debug…Test…Test again….Then go Live!!!!! Next issue: after putting in just a zip code to see if I would get something....the results show in a poor format. The old format worked fine and was very easy to use, please replace it once you correct all the other issues. The "new" but bad search result format is NOT user friendly and I have been using USAjobs for a long time. Normally, usajobs compared to other site would have received a B+, but after your current changes, you most defiantly receive a big fat "F" for Faulty, Flawed, Fumbled and Failed! Please FIX!!!!!

Sun, Oct 23, 2011

If you've ever worked for the government in an IT organization you will understand that this is not surprising. I work for a DOD IT organization and the way this operation is managed it's amazing that anything works.

Sat, Oct 22, 2011 Trudy Washington DC

It's terrible and poorly, poorly designed. What were they thinking? Too much wasted space, too few listings on a screen, it loses its place when you use the provided links, searches are not well thought out, there are a million things wrong with it. What brilliant Obama appointee did this?

Thu, Oct 20, 2011

The new USAJOBS site is pathetic! I used to search daily, but I'm so frustrated I don't even care to search now. Half of the time the only jobs that come up are tons for the Forest Service and the other half, I get zero. I love the way that everything "unbroken" needs to be "fixed" these days. 8-)

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 ddollins

Definitely to rework the site. Of course all of the searches went away and you can't save searches anymore. Using keywords is detriment to a search. The tool is unreliable, inconsistent and frustratingly useless at this point. Please address the bugs.

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