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Mass. senator calls for outsourcing USAJobs

Oct. 28, 2011 - 03:43PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., has expressed concern about the Office of Personnel Management's insourcing of the USAjobs.gov website.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., has expressed concern about the Office of Personnel Management's insourcing of the USAjobs.gov website. (File photo / Agence France-Presse)

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is urging the White House to step in and end the Office of Personnel Management's stumbling attempt to insource the USAJobs website.

Kerry sent a letter Wednesday to federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel asking him to pull the plug on OPM's insourcing effort. Kerry said the government should instead competitively bid USAJobs to a private vendor.

Monster.com, based in Kerry's home state, had managed USAJobs until recently.

USAJobs has been plagued with problems since OPM rebuilt and relaunched it Oct. 11. Thousands of users have complained about error messages, login difficulties, a buggy search engine and overall sluggishness. OPM scrambled to fix the problems and installed three new servers to help the site handle traffic that was more than three times heavier than anticipated.

OPM on Wednesday said it had fixed the capacity problems that kept people from accessing the site and was focused on fixing search engine problems. By the end of the week, users were no longer complaining about access problems on the USAJobs Facebook page, which at one point was getting complaints every few minutes. But the damage to USAJobs 3.0's reputation may already be done.

While OPM has said insourcing the effort would save money and lead to better security and service, that "simply has not happened," Kerry wrote. "These breakdowns again raise real questions about the decision to take this operation in-house."

Kerry also said OPM is increasing the fees it charges agencies to use USAJobs by 19 percent, which he said is unacceptable in an era of tight budgets.

"It seems to me that if it was going to cost less to operate the service, then the fees to agencies should not be going up," Kerry said.

When asked for comment on Kerry's letter, OPM said it won't stop work on USAJobs 3.0 "until we realize the full promise."

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