Deadline extended for federal job seekers

October, 20, 2011

From The Washington Post:

Personnel Director John Berry said Wednesday that his staff is working “around the clock” to fix bugs in the government’s revamped Web site for job seekers, who will get a three-week reprieve on application deadlines for most positions.

“We’re not going to rest until we work through these problems,” the director of the Office of Personnel Management pledged.

Since it launched Oct. 11, the new version of has been plagued by software and hardware glitches that have made the site difficult or impossible to access. Frustrated applicants have vented on Facebook, and they’re still venting.

“The “new” USAJOBS 3.0 is a complete mess. Literally,” Kelly Antonio Lawson posted on Facebook at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

OPM officials blame the problems on an unexpected volume of users who have overwhelmed the system in the last eight days, although Berry said it was unclear whether these are new job seekers or not.

“Any new site has a certain curiosity level to it, maybe that’s it,” he said.

Asked why the agency did not have software in place to handle high volumes before the new site went live last week, Berry said his staff “did try to look ahead” but the volume of users still blindsided them.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, 141,289 applications had been submitted on the new site, “so we know the system is working for a lot of people.”

The revamp is supposed to improve the experience of applying for a federal job, with fewer forms to fill out and easier searches.

With the exception of emergency jobs that must be filled quickly, deadlines to apply for thousands of federal jobs listed on the site will be extended by three weeks to accommodate people who were slowed by problems with the Web site, Berry said.

OPM has ordered new servers to speed up the system and let more people in. Berry said about 6 percent of users get a message telling them the site is busy and asking them to return in a few minutes. He urged applicants to remember to refresh their website page.

OPM spent 18 months overhauling the site after ending a contract with, which had managed it for between $5 million and $6 million a year. Berry said the government paid “almost double that” last year to keep the site going during the overhaul, but predicted that the costs of managing it in house would decline over five years.

He declined to say how much the fixes are costing.

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