The State Worker

California state website crash prompts job application changes

A computer-server room.
A computer-server room. AP

California’s advanced technological ambitions ran smack up against bureaucratic reality this month when its Internet job-application portal crashed under the weight of thousands of users who stormed the site in search of an entry-level state-office job.

The California Department of Human Resources’ website crashed on Oct. 17 shortly after opening a brief window for users to schedule a sitting for office technician tests.

Department spokeswoman Pat McConahay said that officials are “on the situation and handling the problem so this doesn’t happen again.”

Technical staff will soon triple the system’s capacity to handle Internet traffic. The department will add more seats at testing sites and expand the number of places offering tests. All those moves should relieve the kind of pressure that crashed the CalHR computer system, McConahay said.

Although the state filled all 6,000 slots it made available to test for what are currently about 240 office jobs, hopefuls such as Marie Tremble couldn’t get online when the web-based sign ups started.

“I tried to get on right after 2,” when the sign ups opened, Tremble said, but after clicking through a series of prompts that always circled back to the beginning, “the page just wouldn’t load.”

She tried several times the next few days to get into the system. Eventually, the state closed scheduling.

“They make it almost impossible to apply,” the 28-year-old mortgage company receptionist said. She plans to try again when the state schedules another office tech test. The jobs pay from $2,691 to $3,371 per month,

The last test was administered about one year ago, McConahay said, and officials now believe that created the pent-up demand that was released and crashed the department’s system when a test scheduling posted this month. The job is a common entry point for outsiders into state service, because the position’s qualifications don’t require a college education and the jobs are common in departments across California.

CalHR wasn’t caught entirely unaware. On the day office-tech test scheduling opened, department staff kept telephone lines open nearly an hour after closing to handle inquiries. Visits to the department’s job counter that day were also heavy.

“We are taking actions,” McConahay said. “We recognize how important this exam is.”

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.