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It's amazing when something so obvious just comes to you at the oddest of times.  They call it an epiphany.  And (to me at least) this one is a doozy.

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:

https://www.fbo.gov/spg/OPM/OCAS/CD/OPM04910RFI0001/listing.html.  

 

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.

 

Tags: FOIA, OPM, USAJobs, public domain

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Replies to This Discussion

Some have challenged my earlier $50M-$100M Estimated Lifecycle Costs for USAJOBS 3.0, stating that even $50M was far too high (???)   Here is my rationale for $100M.  Disagree?  Point out where I'm wrong.
Start with about $20M in additional costs to agencies that are NOT included in estimates of USAJOBS 3.0 lifecycle costs. I have provided a rationale for this estimate below.

To consider the full lifecycle costs, OPM would have to include the significant contributions (staff and funds) of their lead agency partners (DHS and DoD) as well as the other costs passed onto agencies in addition to the 20% surcharge that OPM will add to USAJOBS bills.

USAJOBS 3.0 launches in October 2011 but, before that launch, 1) agency and vendor systems have to be changed to accommodate the data and other changes made in the new and different USAJOBS architecture and then 2) the agency and vendor systems will have to develop new integrations to USAJOBS.

Some of the agency and vendor systems will need to change significantly and others will change to a lesser degree. For example, USAJOBS will no longer be collecting and sending SSNs to the agency and vendor systems. For USA Staffing, that is a significant change (as it was explained to me) because they index their data base on SSN. I would estimate an average of 12 staff months (fully loaded $200K) for each of the ten agency and vendor systems. Do the math, 10 systems times $200K each equals $2M.

The integration framework for USAJOBS 3.0 will also change, requiring all of the agency and vendor systems to create, test and deploy, and operate new integrations. While I would expect these integrations to normally cost between $100K-$200K, I am actually expecting this integration to be more costly ($250K each) because 1) OPM has not locked down the requirements and 2) OPM has proposed a collaborative and iterative development process over 7 months. Do the math, 10 systems times $250K each equals $2.5M.

However, then there is USAJOBS 3.0 Phase 2, and USAJOBS 3.0 Phase 3 and USAJOBS 4.0 and USAJOBS 5.0. In each case, there will be continuing changes to the data structure and the integrations. The one cycle of change noted above could cost at least $4.5M. If you multiply that times the number of Phases and releases noted to date (x4), that cost grows to $18M. If you add the 20% surcharge ($2M), the costs passed on to agencies already will already total over $20M before any OPM or partner costs are added to get the full lifecycle charges. (DHS has volunteered that they have invested $Millions!)

$100M USAJOBS 5 Year Lifecycle costs, as follows

USAJOBS 2011 $12M
USAJOBS 2012 $14M
USAJOBS 2013 $16M
USAJOBS 2014 $18M
USAJOBS 2015 $20M
Costs Passed to Agencies $20M

Total of $100M

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