Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor




Right search engine, wrong address

John McCormick, in his Power User column 'The mercurial Internet has a new winner in the search engine race' [GCN, Feb. 21, Page 33], is right about the usefulness of Fast Search.

However, the address he offers, www.fast.no, is not the Search engine's main page but the developer's home page. While it does have a search box on it, it takes a long time to load.

The search engine main page, at www.alltheweb.com, loads almost instantly. McCormick mentions the size of the Fast Search engine, and he trumpets its speed. This attribute is negated if you go to the developer's page to access it, since you could do many searches in the time it takes that page to load.

Bill Samuel

Superfund program analyst, Office of Internal Audits

Environmental Protection Agency

Washington

A strategy for keeping federal workers

The issue of how to better attract and retain government employees has been in the news. Two things seem remarkable, considering all the talk about the problem.

First, while it is great to be able to view government job openings online at www.usajobs.com, why can't people apply for federal positions electronically? In the private sector, Web sites such as Monster.com allow not only online viewing of job openings and job seekers' qualifications but also electronic submission of resumes.

As it is, when technically skilled government employees go to the Internet in search of a new position, the ratio of resumes sent electronically to companies vs. those printed out and sent via mail for government positions does not work in the government's favor.



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The government needs to maintain an adequate online record of each employee and to let employees maintain linked, up-to-date resumes that can be referenced automatically when applying for other government positions.

The government should have the advantage in the continued employment of its employees. This would also create useful competition among government managers for the cultivation and advancement of employees, thus reducing the atmosphere of stagnation that is too prevalent in some agencies.

Second, no one has pointed out the significant danger in the declining prestige of civil-service employment. Let us remember the primary reason the civil service was created: to reduce corruption in government. One could argue that there has been a clear correlation between the declining prestige of civil servants and the scandalous conduct of elected officials and political appointees.

In a time when there is so much discussion about money and politics, someone needs to remind Americans that civil-service employees, by virtue of their low pay, may be very much like Franciscan monks who have nothing better to do than look after public interests. And in some ways, low pay protects civil servants. It creates one of the few places where one need not contend with mercenary-minded co-workers.

J.B. Fields

Computer specialist, Consular Systems Division

State Department

Washington

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