Website Problems Continue

Move to a private government cloud model hasn't gone smoothly for the federal job posting site.

Elizabeth Montalbano, Contributor

October 24, 2011

3 Min Read

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Visitors to the updated website continue to experience problems, nearly two weeks after the site was updated and moved to a private government cloud infrastructure.

By Friday, the OPM said it was making "steady progress" to get the site's servers and content-delivery system working properly, and that the agency was working "around the clock" to restore the site to full working order, OPM associate director Angela Bailey said via email. The site had been plagued with glitches for more than a week.

By Friday the site was working at 94% capacity--the same rate OPM director John Berry said the site was operating at on Wednesday in a statement--but the other 6% of users "may get a message to try back later," Bailey said.

The OPM launched version 3.0 of USAJobs, which allows people to search and apply for positions with the federal government, on Oct. 11.

[The federal "cloud-first" mandate means agencies must adapt the cloud model to the idiosyncrasies of government. Learn How To Build A Government Cloud.]

The new site, the results of an 18-month collaboration between the OPM and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council (CHCOC), added enhancements to security, informational features, and search, as well as a key feature that would allow people to type in their information once to apply for multiple jobs. Previously, people had to enter information for each job separately.

Three days after the launch of version 3.0, the agency reported that high volume to the site was causing problems with its search features, as well as with its ability to allow people to build new saved searches, and that officials were seeking to resolve the problems. Later, problems arose with other functions of the site, including login and password reset functions, according to user comments on the site's Facebook page; officials said they were tracking comments on that page to help fix the site's problems.

Online employment site previously hosted the site, but the OPM and CHCOC decided to bring the system in-house when developing version 3.0, Bailey said.

"The CHCOC believed that a hybrid approach, in which the core product is developed and hosted by OPM, would enable key components to be brought under full government control in a secure environment, while innovation from the private sector could be leveraged, where needed, to round out the end-to-end hiring process," she said.

The site's collaborators chose to deploy USAJobs on a private cloud because they didn't believe a commercial cloud had the security to protect personally identifiable information stored and used on the site, Bailey said.

Despite the troubles with the site, officials said that job applications are getting through. On Monday, Oct. 17, nearly a week after the new site launched, more than 100,000 applications had been submitted through the new system. By Tuesday that number had climbed to more than 140,000, and by Monday morning nearly 300,000 applications had been successfully submitted, according to the OPM.

"So we know the system is working for a lot of people," Berry said.

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