USAJOBS vs CBO Job Site

Too much exposure to USAJOBS has really turned me cynical. Despite news reports on the need to recruit thousands of new employees, the main federal jobs site is a usability nightmare, unfathomable to even people who work on web sites, like me. While the site has few defenders, some have argued that it has to be that way, because it’s the government. Federal requirements dictate its complexity and difficulty.

There’s got to be another way! And there is. It’s the job site for the Congressional Budget Office. The site is a model of simplicity and common sense, where you can apply for a job in minutes, rather than hours. Let me spell out the differences between the CBO site and USAJOBS:

  • It’s all one site.You’re not bounced to a separate organizational site to complete a whole other application, like you would if you applied for a job with Agriculture from USAJOBS.
  • An easy password. You don’t need a complicated ten character password with upper and lower case letters plus numbers.
  • Upload or copy and paste your documents. Choose which is easier for you – either upload a Word doc or copy and paste your resume. You don’t have to enter information job by job. Supporting docs can also be uploaded.
  • No KSAs.
  • Job descriptions less than a page long, in plain language.
  • No confusing instructions to fax or snail mail in additional information. It’s 100% online.
  • It’s well-designed. The site makes excellent use of white space and provides strong visual cues for users, such as making the “Submit Application” button blue and placing it at the bottom of the right-hand menu.

Why can’t the rest of government do this? The site is not complicated, in fact it looks like it was designed in the late 1990s. But it’s simple and easy for visitors. It’s oriented around their top tasks, as good government sites are supposed to.

Looking at this site, USAJOBS makes even less sense to me.

Why Doesn't Government Use the Web to Organize Its Work?

I’ve been reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. It’s a brilliant book on the information revolution that we’re going through. He believes that this revolution is as momentous as the development of the printing press, which triggered the Reformation and religious wars. The rise of amateurs and the expansion of consumer choice has meant the end of seemingly unassailable institutions like newspapers.

Seeing how the world is rushing to adapt to the web, I had a practical question. Why doesn’t the government use the web to more efficiently accomplish its work? For example: Continue reading “Why Doesn't Government Use the Web to Organize Its Work?”

Ocean.gov – A Modest Proposal

surfer and blue sea

Have you ever wondered why there’s no¬†ocean.gov? This is a valuable and easy to remember URL that the government doesn’t currently use. And it should, for we all depend on the ocean for the very air we breathe.

When I was at NOAA, it was explained to me that there’s no web site at ocean.gov because no one agency or part of government “owns” the ocean. Lots of federal and state agencies have jurisdiction and interest in what goes on in the watery realm. Doing something with ocean.gov would require cooperation and agreement among the numerous governmental entities which all have a stake in the ocean. Creating ocean.gov would require a web manager with the patience of Job and the diplomatic skills of, well, I don’t know, to get all the various ocean-related partners on the same page. Which is why it’s never been done. Continue reading “Ocean.gov – A Modest Proposal”