After launching the new federal employee data site a few days ago, we have received questions about how to effectively locate information. The most common complaint: “Your site doesn’t work. I can’t find my name or the name of any individual employees I wanted to look up.”
The database appears to be working as it was designed to work without any significant problem. We have made several adjustments to the site to accommodate the heavy usage of the site and to speed up searches when there are a number of simultaneous queries.
There is a large amount of data contained in the site and that can be searched by our readers. To make the program operate quicker and more efficiently, we have programmed the site so that many items are already in categories. For those who were not sure how to look up individual names, here is a guide that may be helpful.
Search Limitations and Parameters
Please note that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) does not release the name of every federal employee based on the agency’s conclusion that it is in the interest of national security not to include these names. Employees in the Department of Defense, intelligence agencies and the Internal Revenue Service are not included. This is a decision made by OPM and the data is not available to FedSmith so it is not included in the database.
As you search through the database, you will undoubtedly find other names that have not been included for similar reasons as determined by OPM.
How to Find a Person’s Name
The program requires entering the person’s last name first in order to locate the person you are seeking.
Next, enter the person’s first name. This can be tricky. For example, if you are looking for a person you know as “Steve” that may not be how the database has listed his name. It may be listed as “Steven” or as “Stephen,” for example, or it could even just list a first initial, “S” in this example. You will not be given any results if the name you enter is different from how it is contained in the database.
The search will also return partial matches on names. So, if you aren’t sure how a person’s name may be listed, you can enter part of it. Entering “Wi” for example will match names such as “Williams,” “Williamson,” or even matches it finds on the first name such as “Jones William.” (Hint: Do not enter a comma between the last and the first name.)
If the person’s last name is an uncommon one, you can just enter the person’s last name to find everyone with that name in the database.
Here is an example.
I have a friend who works for the federal government with the last name of “Hightower.” It is an easy name to remember and to spell but nowhere as common as “Smith” or “Johnson.” By entering the person’s last name, I will see every federal employee in the database with that last name.
But, to narrow down the search, I also know that my friend works in Alabama. I can therefore enter his last name only in the search engine and I can also enter the State where he works. Twenty-five names show up when I search for everyone named “Hightower.” But, by entering the State name, I am given the name of the five federal employees with that last name in the State of Alabama.
Search by Title
Titles are also confusing. Agencies do not always use the same job titles. The database will help narrow your search. For example, if I type in “accountant,” I will not see any results. However, after typing in the letters “Accou,” I will see the titles with these letters that are used in the database in a search hint menu that appears underneath the title field. If I am only looking for federal employees who work in the accounting profession within the Office of Personnel Management, I can narrow my search to this universe of federal employees quickly. I just click on the title I want that comes up in the search hint menu after it appears.
Some readers expressed frustration because their agency was not listed. Agencies may not be listed as you may think they should be. The database will often help with your search. For example, if I type in National Aeronautics and Space Administration, I will not find any responses. But typing in only “NASA,” will find find “NASA Headquarters” listed.
What if I want to find engineers at Langley Research Center, which is part of NASA? In this instance, the name of the agency is listed under “Langley Research Center.” By typing in only “Langley,” and selecting the type of engineer position I am looking for, the program will display the results.
So, in other words, if you type in the name of the agency in a way that is not contained in the database, you will not find any results.
Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47