This week's book giveaway is in the OCPJP forum. We're giving away four copies of OCA/OCP Java SE 7 Programmer I & II Study Guide and have Kathy Sierra & Bert Bates on-line! See this thread for details.
Does the government offer many good programming jobs? I know they need people back in some little office somewhere with top secret clearence writing codebreakers and misile guidance systems, but what about organizational tools and simulations? The US government must be the biggest company in the world, but they don't seem to advertise positions like other people...
I think most federal agencies use contractors for most of their computer work. I've most of these contracts are with larger companies that do a lot of such work. I recall seeing small contracts only as part programs oriented to minority-owned firms. I saw other small jobs handing using an arrangement under which several companies holding an umbrella contract would bid on the job, which would then be awarded under one of larger contracts. I've been away from Washington for 7 years. About the only federal organizations I remember hiring general IT employees when I was looking were the Congress, Library of Congress, Supreme Court, and White House. As I recall, when others were hiring IT people, they were usually looking for people to oversee the contractors.
You are right. One resource is the official federal jobs website. The search engine sucks, but if you go to the IT jobs search page, leave keyword empty and select $57k-$88k for salary, you will get some hits. The other thing to do is to go straight to the pages of the various government agencies, who very often post job openings as well as general information on how to get hired, and what skill mixes they hire. Remember, government agencies hire individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds. Not everybody at the FBI, for example, is a special agent (although according to their site the FBI is looking for people with CS background to fill positions as Special Agents). Here are some links to the employment pages of a few government agencies: