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USAJobs: Lesson or warning?

The USAJobs fiasco is more than just a story of a system implementation gone awry. It renews the perpetual debate of insourcing vs. outsourcing.

By all accounts, the Office of Personnel Management had a good thing going with Monster.com. USAJobs ran smoothly, serving federal job listings up to prospective applicants based on their desired positions, locations and salary ranges. Now and then there would be a hiccup, but by and large users – applicants and hiring agencies alike – seemed pleased.

For the new version, launched in mid-October, OPM brought the work in-house. With the aid of some contractor support, OPM itself developed and hosted version 3 of the job-search site. And when it debuted, disaster struck almost instantly. Users couldn't get into the site, and when they did, they couldn't get the search results they wanted.

The problems persist even now, although OPM may be making some progress at fixing them. But leaders at other agencies are watching, and one must wonder: The next time an agency has a major public-facing system to develop and launch, will OPM's experience serve as a cautionary tale, or as a rich vein of lessons to learn from?

Time will tell.

Posted on Oct 21, 2011 at 7:52 AM


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