ReinventWheel

Government Learns to Build Partnerships, Not Reinvent the Wheel

Partnerships are wonderful things.  They allow you to off-load some of the burdens of running a service and enable each partner to focus on different aspects of a project.  Kind of a “divide and conquer approach.”

 

Since its creation, the federal government has engaged in these types of partnerships with business.  Rather than creating its own factories and labor force, the Pentagon hires Boeing to build its planes.  Likewise, the government partners with businesses to distribute food to the homeless.  Even Betsy Ross’s creation of the American flag was a partnership.  Government and businesses use these partnerships to deliver quality services efficiently.

 

This tradition of government and business partnerships continues in the online space. This month, the federal government partnered with Facebook to help jobless Americans find work.  This partnership takes advantage of Facebook’s social network to virally deliver new job postings through the Facebook site at no charge.

 

The federal government chose to partner with a Facebook to help Americans get back to work; an ideal partnership.

 

Rather than the federal government spending millions of dollars developing its own social network, it chose to partner with an existing business to help Americans get back to work; an ideal partnership.

 

At the same time, the government abandoned another job-based perfect partnership resulting in loss.

 

Since 2004, the government relied upon the best job website, Monster.com, to help create and manage USAJobs, the website used to offer and apply for jobs in the federal government.  This situation was ideal.  The government could off-load to Monster the management of job applications and offers, software and mainframe development, and other similar expenses and helped to streamline the application process.

 

However, instead of enjoying the success of this partnership, the government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) decided to terminate this six year partnership and create its own USAJobs website.  OPM decided to reinvent the wheel.

 

But OPM’s efforts to reinvent USAJobs has cost over $20 million and resulted in a site riddled with crashes and bugs.  The new OPM-run USAJobs fails to provide accurate job search results, disconnects users, and even lost resumes and other job seeker information.

 

The OPM USAJobs site is so bad it led one job seeker to say, “Hopefully I’ll finally get a job soon, and I won’t have to deal with USAJobs anymore.”  This was not something that was said about USAJobs under Monster’s management.

 

Aside from the usability woes, the cost to just fix the OPM site is projected at $6 million with operating costs expected to rise.  Finally, OPM is requiring government agencies to pay OPM to post jobs on the new USAJobs site.

[bquote_right]The cost of creating and fixing the OPM USAJobs site: $26 million, the cost of renewing the contract with Monster to run USAJobs, only $6 million.[/bquote_right]

 

And if you wanted to just compare costs, the cost of creating and fixing the OPM USAJobs site: $26 million, the cost of renewing the contract with Monster to run USAJobs, only $6 million.  So the partnership with Monster created functionality and cost efficiency, an ideal partnership.

 

Public-private partnerships work.  We ought to know that by now.  The success of USAJobs under Monster and the latest pairing of Facebook and the government show this.  And sometimes, it takes the loss of a partner to truly appreciate just how valuable they were.  Hopefully OPM realizes their loss and restores their once successful USAJobs partnership.

 

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