As federal jobs site problems persist, Sen. John Kerry suggests U.S. CIO VanRoekel should scrap the in-house service, return it to an outsourcer.

Elizabeth Montalbano, Contributor

November 3, 2011

3 Min Read

8 IT Hiring Strategies Of Top CIOs

8 IT Hiring Strategies Of Top CIOs

8 IT HIring Strategies Of Top CIOs (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Just after the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) said it resolved "capacity issues" with its site Tuesday, a hardware issue caused the site to crash, as problems with the federal job site continued into their third week.

Issues with the site following an Oct. 11 relaunch have become such a hassle that Sen. John Kerry has appealed to U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel to rethink the administration's decision to move the site in-house from a third-party hosting company.

Tuesday afternoon, the OPM said in an update that issues with handling the number of visitors to the site had been fixed. But soon after the agency reported on Twitter that some users might be experiencing "intermittent access issues" due to a hardware problem.

"A server went down and we are in recovery right now," according to the Twitter feed. "We expect to be up with full functionality shortly." The problem eventually was resolved, and officials said the site was back online within two hours.

[The feds have big plans for IT. Read U.S. CIO VanRoekel Outlines What's Next For Fed Tech.]

Problems with allows people to search and apply for positions with the federal government--started three days into the site's upgrade to its 3.0 version. High volume after the relaunch caused problems with its search features and general accessibility, among other issues.

The new site, the result of an 18-month collaboration between the OPM and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council (CHCOC), added enhancements to security, informational features, and search. It also changed the site so people can type in their information once to apply for multiple jobs, whereas previously they had to enter information for each job separately.

Another change to the site was the aforementioned move to in-house servers. Previously, online employment site hosted the site.

Sen. Kerry--whose home state Massachusetts is the headquarters of that, in light of the site's problems, perhaps outsourcing it again wouldn't be such a bad idea.

In a letter to the U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel, Kerry called for the administration to consider letting a company with experience managing online services once again take over the site.

"These breakdowns again raise real questions about the decision to take this operation in-house, and in light of the poor transition and launch, I am renewing the recommendation for the administration to seek a vendor through a competitive bidding process to manage this service," he wrote.

In an update about the site Wednesday, the OPM said once again that capacity issues had been resolved and engineers were refining the site's search engine for faster, easier service.

Despite the problems, people have still been able to successfully use the site since its relaunch. As of Wednesday, nearly 10 million visits have been made to the site, nearly 730,000 people created new accounts, and more than 600,000 applications were successfully submitted through it, according to the OPM.

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