Users frustrated with the new, overwhelmed USAJobs 3.0

Monday - 10/17/2011, 5:34am EDT

Federal jobseekers are complaining that the new version of the USAJobs.gov website is slow and clunky — just the opposite of what the Office of Personnel Management had promised when it took control of the site from a government contractor.

"We hope we're going to open the floodgates for innovation and competition," said Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry at a tech forum just hours before his agency released the new version.

But those floodgates have been stifled as users complain they cannot access the site. Instead, they're greeted by an apology on the site's homepage:

"USAJOBS 3.0 has been overwhelmed with the volume of visitors to the site since its launch earlier this week. In fact, many of the challenges that users have experienced are a result of the system timing out due to traffic and not technical functionality issues. USAJOBS 3.0 has received, on average, 2.5 million visitors per day since Tuesday, October 11; this is three times the highest peak day in 2010 on the previous USAJOBS. While we do not believe the sustained traffic will continue, we are exploring options to resolve this issue as soon as possible."

'We expected this'

OPM is asking agencies that use the site to recruit to extend their application deadlines while it works out the kinks.

"We will continue to experience technical glitches, like most new IT products," said an OPM spokeswoman in an email statement. "We expected this and have a dedicated team working around the clock to address these issues. We are working carefully to make 3.0 run smoothly, realizing it takes some time to get a new system to 'quiet down.'"

The spokeswoman said OPM transferred more than 5 billion rows of data, associated with the applicants' resumes, profiles and other pertinent documents. USAJOBS is home to 17 million accounts and last year processed 21 million applications.

"This is by far OPM's highest trafficked, most complex website," the spokeswoman said. "USAJOBS 3.0 is the culmination of an 18 month overhaul process, worked in collaboration with the CHCO council and our vendor partners."

But the problems aren't making the users' move to version 3 any easier.

"The new website has so many bugs it should be exterminated," wrote Donna Schultz on the USAJobs Facebook page.

In addition to capacity overload, users are complaining about having to reset their passwords because of new security requirements.

Some jobseekers sympathetic

"We are using social media to remind visitors that they need to re-enter their security questions since as we announced earlier passwords could not be transferred from 2.0 to 3.0," said the OPM spokeswoman. "This accounts for a great percentage of the several thousand help desk requests we have received. In addition to answering each individually, we will also continue to respond through blanket emails and social networking."

The new site represents OPM's effort to take control of the government's most widely used website from contractor Monster Government Solutions. Federal human resources leaders wanted to use open architecture and standard code rather than Monster's proprietary technology . The new site is supposed to connect with 59 contractors' websites and every federal agency portal.

But some job seekers are sympathetic to OPM as it works to get the site going.

"These are people with feelings who are just trying to do the best job they can-give them a break and let them fix the situation," wrote Gabrielle Tarr Donnald on the USAJobs Facebook page.

Rosalie Barrack added, "if you can't handle frustration and confusion, don't look for a job with the government."

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