I never understood why OPM wanted to build USAJOBS in house. I know the big government people like to call it in-sourcing and say it protects the jobs of their own kind, but it's just misguided on so many levels.
While attending the USAJOBS Vendor Conference of August 2009 in Peachtree City, GA, I asked some fairly high up OPMers about the status of the USAJOBS re-compete. After a bit of hemming and hawing, they said that "procurement strategies" were still being developed but they hoped to get something on the street soon.
Sure enough, on October 16, 2009, OPM issued a Request For Information (RFI) for what I thought would be the re-compete of USAJOBS. Here's the link on FedBizOps:
The RFI was due November 20, 2009. I have no idea how many responses were submitted. Although I have to believe at a minimum the incumbent submitted a response. Anyway, a few months later and still nothing on the USAJOBS re-compete. I'm sure several other vendors wondered when the RFP would come out, but as time went on I simply assumed that OPM would just award USAJOBS back to Monster.
But guess what, OPM didn't make an award and for some crazy reason had decided to go it alone and develop USAJOBS 3.0 in house.
I don't know what triggered my epiphany, but it happened yesterday while walking my daughter home from school. Like normal, she was probably telling me about her day, all the great things she learned, etc. and I was probably off daydreaming about how I was going to crush OPM and take over the world (mu ha ha ha - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSXOIf1YHmo).
So onto my epiphany; the development of USAJOBS 3.0 is being done by government personnel (with some private contractors), government resources and is being financed with government funding. Therefore the whole USAJOBS 3.0 project falls into the Public Domain. Meaning, the design docs, specifications, descriptions of features/functions, specifications, data schema, source code, progress reports, emails, etc., etc. are now the property of "We the people of the United States". We own it and have right to see it, touch it, copy it, etc.
Under Public Domain, OPM has no Intellectual Property rights, OPM cannot patent, trademark or copyright the work like the private sector. They cannot hide or shield it from us. In essence, all of this information is now available under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In fact, if I were a vendor who submitted a response to the RFI, I would want to see if any of my concepts are incorporated in the new design of USAJOBS 3.0. I can hear those FOIA requests now.
This leads to a second major issue: Confidentiality. In the RFI, OPM states: "All information included in this RFI is confidential and only for the recipient to know. No information included in this document or discussions connected to it may be disclosed to any other party." Fair enough. There are lots of great ideas out there and vendors need to have assurances that the government won't pass them to their competitors.
But, if OPM used any ideas in the design and development of USAJOBS 3.0 that were gained from the RFI (under false pretense some might argue) then OPM most likely violated its own confidentiality clause and became the competitor (a recurring theme that I've written about numerous times). This could prove to be very troublesome for OPM because a vendor may have legal standing if OPM stole (pretty harsh term, but necessary) their ideas.
Personally, I believe OPM should NOT be in the business of developing USAJOBS 3.0 or any ventures that compete with the private sector. My epiphany of public domain may hasten that reality even if my posts do not.