Letters to the editor

Civilian Recruiting Bogged Down

Your feature story in the April 8 edition of Federal Computer Week ["Embracing online recruiting"] indicated that the Army is doing a good job using the World Wide Web to recruit soldiers. However, civilian employee recruitment is still lacking.

More than a year ago, the Army implemented a program enabling applicants to submit an electronic resume in response to a job announcement. This program works well for building a resume, but the process after that bogs down.

Instead of a centralized recruitment agency, the Army breaks down its recruitment geographically into nine Civilian Personnel Operations Centers (CPOCs). Although this allows for decentralized management, each CPOC sets its own rules and procedures for applications.

In order to be aware of the individual rules, an applicant has to download, read and follow a large procedural manual for each center to which he or she is applying. And applicants will have to continually check each CPOC's Web page for updates or changes.

I built a resume using the resume builder at Army Civilian Personnel Online (cpol. army.mil). But when I sent it to the Western CPOC in response to a job announcement, it was rejected because it wasn't in the desired format. Two other CPOCs accepted the resume.

Until the Army can standardize its application procedures, it will continue to discourage potential applicants who don't have the time to deal with a hodgepodge of procedures.

Patrick Petrell
Justice Department

The following are responses from an FCW.com poll question April 13-27 that asked: "Should the Office of Homeland Security be replaced by a Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security?" For more responses, go to www.fcw.com/letters.asp and click on Homeland Security/National ID.

Cabinet Gridlock

Our founding fathers intended for the executive branch to be able to react quickly to a crisis. For that reason,the Cabinet needs to remain small. The larger the group is, the slower it reacts. This recent crisis proves that this idea still holds true.

I believe the Cabinet is already too big. For example, the original mission of the Energy Department was to make the nation energy independent. If that mission had been achieved, we would not have had an energy crunch at the end of 2000. Being a Cabinet-level organization did nothing to prevent a crisis.

Instead, this status created gridlock to slow the department's response to real-world problems. If former President Carter had instead created a Bureau of Energy under the Commerce Department, we might now have greater access to alternate energy solutions.

The problem with the Office of Homeland Security is similar. It should remain the way it is to minimize duplication of resources. Also, Congress has not given sufficient time to see if this office will function properly.

A basic problem across the entire federal government is getting agencies to collaborate. If homeland security remains an intermediate-level organization, it has a greater chance of success in gaining interagency cooperation. If it were elevated to Cabinet level, other agencies might view it as a competitor.

Derek Jones
Energy Department

Just Say No

I say no to a Cabinet position for the Office of Homeland Security for several reasons. Here are three:

n Many Cabinet-level positions already exist. These entities need effective coordination driven by the discipline that an independent, non-Cabinet-level director close to the president can provide. A Cabinet-level administrator would see a dilution of his power "over" other Cabinet members.

n This new position and the investments it requires can be "throttled" in times of national turmoil, giving the effort a variable component that is rare in today's government.

n Government is too large as it is. Every time a Cabinet-level organization is created, it will only grow from year to year.

Tom Logan
NASA

One Voice for Homeland Security

Homeland security before Sept. 11 had been the work of the military, the Justice Department or local law enforcement and courts. Since Sept. 11, we have a new concept of an old problem — protecting the home front — with a global perspective.

I think the Office of Homeland Security should be part of Justice. What we need — and what has been properly set up — is a federal coordinator. No more interagency fighting or communication problems. The defense of the United States must be "all-American," not federal, state or local. Homeland security must be nonpartisan and speak with one voice.

Paul Jordan
Department of Veterans Affairs

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