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Veterans Job Boards Seek Federal Probe of Monster-DOD Deal

June 29, 2007

A subsidiary of Monster Worldwide is under fire from several military veterans job boards, which are saying that the job board giant received preferential treatment when it was awarded a contract to power a new Department of Defense Web site designed to help veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserve transition to civilian life.

Executives from VetJobs, MilitaryHire and CorporateGray believe the Defense Department ignored their sites when it launched TurboTAP.org in conjunction with the Departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs in early June in favor of Military.com, the online presence of Monster subsidiary Military Advantage. The military-focused job boards want to know why the contract was awarded to Monster without holding an open bidding process, which would have enabled them to compete.

“We have many questions about the way the TurboTAP job board came to be,” says Ted Daywalt, CEO of Marietta, Georgia-based VetJobs and organizer of the protest efforts.

The job boards are calling for the Government Accountability Office to investigate the contract. They also sent a letter of concern June 20 to members of the House and Senate veterans’ affairs committees. A staff member of Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, confirmed the letter was received.

An official from Military.com declined to comment and referred inquiries to the Defense Department. Several attempts to contact Monster went unanswered.

Gary Woods, director of educational opportunities for the Department of Defense, says the agency did not grant Monster the contract directly. That decision was made by one of its primary contractors, which awarded the subcontracting business to the massive online job board, he says.

Woods declined to reveal the cost or duration of the contract.

It’s unclear whether a competitive open bidding process was legally required. Yet the military-related job sites protesting the contract believe it met certain financial benchmarks for that process, and that they were excluded from any opportunity to bid on TurboTAP.

“I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know much about TurboTAP,” says Michael Weiss, president of MilitaryHire. “It’s as if one day I woke up and the site was there.”

Weiss says he and his peers were largely caught off guard, which is unusual in a niche market with a handful of military-specific job boards.

The job board executives are angered that TurboTAP does not display vacancies from job sites other than Monster.

“It’s an unfair implementation that gives Monster listings exclusivity,” says Carl Savino, president of CorporateGray.

The military job sites also contend the data gathered when an individual becomes a registered user for the site—such as name and contact information—goes directly into a Monster-owned résumé database and is not shared with other job boards. Such information is coveted among job boards because it offers a way to reach and market to potential job seekers.

On June 21, defense and labor officials held a briefing on TurboTAP with representatives from several interest groups, including the Vietnam Veterans of America.

“We want to understand why Monster is the only job board participating in the transition efforts for the men and women in our military,” Rick Weidman, director of government relations for the veterans group, said after the session. “Why should Monster have an exclusive lock on the eyes of military individuals who will be looking for jobs?”

—Gina Ruiz