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Federal job seekers' applications lost when hiring system goes down

Aug. 16, 2011 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments

About 70,000 federal job seekers' applications were lost when the government's major online hiring system went down for several days last week.

The Office of Personnel Management's USA Staffing system which posts vacancy announcements on and accepts, rates and ranks job applications was unexpectedly taken down Aug. 9, according to an Aug. 12 listserv notice from the Health and Human Services Department. OPM brought it back online two days later, but had to revert to a backup version stored on Aug. 7, HHS said. This meant that job applications submitted between late afternoon Aug. 7 to midday Aug. 9 were lost.

And many job seekers were unable to submit new applications while the system was offline. Dozens of people posted on the">USAJobs Facebook page last week complaining about the outage.

HHS said that the "unscheduled maintenance … was necessary to research, identify and resolve problematic issues reported by users of the system."

OPM confirmed the outage, and said an error occurred after the agency performed regularly scheduled maintenance on the system. The agency apologized, and said the only way to fix the problem was to take USA Staffing offline.

OPM said no data was compromised or breached because of the problem. The agency said it told all 70,000 affected applicants and 54 agencies that use USA Staffing about the problem so they could resubmit any lost applications.

As a result, some agencies are extending their vacancy periods to give job seekers more time to apply or reapply.

HHS said in its listserv notice that any vacancy that was to have closed between Aug. 7 and Aug. 10 was extended to Aug. 15. The department said that OPM's USA Staffing program office would notify applicants who were inconvenienced by the problem about the extension.

And at least one job announcement at the Defense Information Systems Agency, which was originally supposed to close during the outage period, was extended to Aug. 17.

"This unscheduled maintenance has undoubtedly caused a delay in recruitment efforts and service agreements," HHS said.

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