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Vacancy Details


Announcement Number:
Hiring Agency:
Position Title:
Staff Assistant
Open Period:
10/04/2016 - 10/21/2016


GS - 0301 09
USD $49,037 - USD $63,743
Work Schedule:
Full-time - Full Time.
Promotion Potential:
Duty Location(s):
1 Vacancy in

Amado, AZ, US
Telework Eligible:
For More Info:
Judy Gallagher


Who May Apply/Clarification From the Agency:
This position is open to all U.S. Citizens or U.S. Nationals

Note:  Federal employees with permanent status or individuals eligible for special appointing authorities may apply to Job Announcement 16-58
Security Clearance Required:
Q Nonsensitive
Appointment Type
Appointment Type Details:
Marketing Statement:
The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is part of what is arguably the largest and most diverse astrophysical institution in the world, where the staff carries out a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, and earth and space sciences. If you would like to join this exciting organization, apply today!


This is the position of Staff Assistant, Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO), Optical and Infrared Astronomy Division (OIR), Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). The FLWO, located at Mt. Hopkins in Amado AZ, is a geographically isolated, technically specialized, and highly interactive scientific research environment in continuous 24 hour operation. As the largest field operation of SAO, FLWO is home to a number of optical and gamma ray telescopes including the MMT, VERITAS, the 1.5 and 1.2-meter reflectors, PAIRITEL, HAT, MEarth ,Minerva; their related scientific instruments; and a complex infrastructure that includes dormitories, telescope buildings, offices and laboratories, maintenance and repair facilities, and a public Visitor Center. FLWO hosts a large number of U.S. and international scientific visitors working at the telescope sites, as well as the general public. Its operation also requires close cooperation with staff of the University of Arizona, which operates the MMT jointly with SAO.

Supervisory Position:
Relocation Expenses Reimbursed:
Travel Required:
Not Required


1.  Provides financial administration to FLWO as follows: 

  • Monitors obligations and expenditures of all  FLWO operating funds including  the federal allocation, private grants, revenue-generating funds, and SI maintenance/repair funds.  Reconciles with SAO monthly ERP system financial reports and works with SAO FMD staff to correct errors when found.  
  • Develops FLWO’s portion of the annual Federal budget submission.   
  • Manages local checking account and reports monthly expenditures to SAO FMD. Administer the petty cash fund used for local purchases and submits all vouchers for reimbursement.
  • Periodically reconciles maintenance/repair fund discrepancies with the SI Project Manager in SI/OFEO and/or SAO FM staff. 
  • Generates and distributes periodic internal financial statements on all funds. 
  • Supports scientists and the VERITAS Program Manager with contract and grant submissions as requested, including collection of budgetary information and assembly of the final product. 
  • Periodically surveys Project Heads to determine their projected needs for supplies and materials such as liquid nitrogen used by all telescopes, fuel for vehicles and backup generators, number of leased vehicles, equipment, etc. for both budget management and to generate or modify term or blanket purchase orders.
2.  Consistent with delegated purchasing authority, procures a wide variety of technical materials and services including maintenance and automotive supplies, electronic and optical equipment components, computer systems and accessories, and maintenance and repair services. This includes the following:  ensuring adherence to Federal Acquisition Regulations; making decisions on price reasonableness; negotiating delivery dates and expediting orders; receiving items and verifying shipments; vouchering invoices  and tracking payments;  obtaining Material Safety Data Sheets on all new chemicals from manufacturers; and maintaining a current, centralized, MSDS reference book.

3.  Coordinates FLWO property management.  This includes managing the inventory of property and  ensuring that all tagging requirements are met; maintaining an automated system to track property inventory;  conducting periodic inventory reviews; processing excess FLWO property for disposal;   serving as liaison to other agency officials and the public for the distribution of property being excessed by FLWO; working with science, technical, and operations staff to identify Observatory needs that could be met with Federal excess property in ways that would be cost effective for FLWO and MMTO; screening available property, placing holds,  processing required documentation; and arranging for transfer and shipping to FLWO. 

4.  Provides overall administrative support to FLWO in areas including  human resources, travel, the safety program, operation of the FLWO Visitor’s Center,  motor pool fleet maintenance, and construction contract administration. Serves as COTR for the base and mountain facilities’ cleaning contract; supervises the administrative support assistant; obtains, prepares, and submits required documentation for contracts managed through SI/OCON; and serves as an information source on all administrative policies and practices

Qualifications and Evaluations

For information on qualification requirements,
see Qualification Standards Handbook for
General Schedule Positions
viewable on the
web at

Qualification requirements must be met within 30 days of the job opportunity announcement closing date.
Key Requirements:
  • May require a Pre- and post-appointment background
  • May be required to serve a one-year probationary period.
  • Direct Deposit/Elect Funds Transfer required for salary payment.
  • Males born after 12/31/59 must be registered with Selective Service.
  • Education Requirements:
    Your application will be evaluated first for the basic qualifications described above. The online questionnaire will evaluate your experience, education, and/or training that address the competencies below:

    Knowledge of budgeting, accounting, and financial reporting procedures for multiple funding sources including Federal, contract/grant, revenue, and special purpose funds such as maintenance/repair.

    Knowledge of  Federal and Trust procurement policies and procedures including Federal Acquisition Regulations  and  associated ERP systems in order to serve as a buyer within FLWO’s delegated authority.

    Knowledge of federal property management policies and procedures, particularly as they relate to the acquisition and disposition of excess Federal property.

    Ability to work independently to organize, prioritize, and execute the flow of work through a busy administrative office in an environment in which processes, procedures, and task parameters may be changed repeatedly; and where it is necessary to execute multiple unrelated assignments simultaneously.                

    Knowledge of the capabilities, operating characteristics, and advanced functions of a variety of office automation software including spreadsheets, databases, and word processors.

    Ability  to communicate  clearly and effectively with scientific, technical, administrative, and trades staff at all levels; distinguished visitors; vendors; and the general public in a variety of situations that will include confidential, sensitive, or contentious  matters.

    Applicants who have not submitted a resume in the USAjobs system and/or have not answered all of the vacancy questions will not be considered for this position.  

     Applicants who meet or exceed minimum qualifications will be assigned to one of three category groups based on job-related criteria:

    Best Category - Meets the minimum qualification requirements and excels in most of the job related competencies above.

    Better Category - Meets the minimum qualification requirements and satisfies most of the job related competencies above.

    Good Category - Meets the minimum qualification requirements, but does not satisfy most of the job related competencies above to a substantive degree.  

    This category rating process does not add veterans' preference points or apply the "rule of three", but protects the rights of veterans by placing them ahead of non-preference eligibles within each category.  A selecting official may make selections from the highest quality category (Best Category) provided no preference eligible in that category is passed over to select a non-preference eligible in that category unless the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 3317(b) or 3318(b) are satisfied.

    Preference eligibles who meet minimum qualification requirements and who have a compensable service-connected disability of at least 10 percent must be listed in the highest quality category, except when the position being filled is scientific or professional at the GS-9 grade level or higher.

    Applicants who have not submitted a resume in the USAjobs system and/or have not answered all of the vacancy questions will not be considered for this position.  

    Important Note:

    The review of your resume will determine your final rating and should provide sufficient information regarding how your education and experience relate to this position, including the major duties and qualifications criteria listed.
    Experience: One year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade level in the normal progression for this occupation that has equipped the candidate with the particular knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position.  The experience may include activities such as Federal procurement, property management, financial administration, and general administrative support to a complex facility.
    Education: master's or equivalent graduate degree or two full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's or equivalent degree related to the position may be substituted to meet the experience requirements.
    Combination of Experience and Education: Education and experience may be combined to meet the basic qualifications; for example, a half year of experience and a half year of education in the field may be qualifying.

    Special Instructions for Foreign Education: If you are qualifying by education and/or you have education completed in a foreign college/university described above, it is your responsibility to provide transcripts and/or proof of U.S. accreditation for foreign study. For instructions on where to fax these documents, see the "Required Documents" section of this announcement.

    Benefits and Other Info

    The Smithsonian offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes, in part, vacation and sick leave, holidays, commuter benefits, health/life insurance, and accidental insurance. Please see Benefits at for a complete description.
    Other Information:
    The Smithsonian does not pay relocation expenses.

    A recruitment bonus may be paid.

    The Smithsonian embraces diversity and equal employment opportunity.

    How to Apply

    How to Apply:
    Click on the "Apply Online" button on the upper right side of the page. Please Note:
    • You must apply for this position online through the 'Apply Online' button.
    • Faxes are received by an automated system, not a physical fax machine. Documents that are faxed as part of the application process must be sent with the system generated cover sheet by the closing date. Documents faxed without the system generated coversheet are not retrievable and cannot be considered as part of the application package.
    • Clicking the "DONE" tab does not submit your application. The "DONE" tab allows you to exit the system and save your information for completion at a later time. To submit your application, click the "FINISH" tab.
    • The complete application package, including any required documents, is due in the Smithsonian Office of Human Resources on the closing date of the announcement by 11:59 PM Eastern Time.
    • If you are unable to apply online, paper applications may be accepted with prior approval of the Contact Person listed below.
    Required Documents:
    Your application package should include the following documents:
    • Detailed resume
    • Unofficial school transcripts, if the position has an education requirement or if you are using education to qualify.  If selected for the position, you must provide an official transcript before appointment.
    • Proof of U.S. accreditation for foreign study, if applicable.
    • Proof of Veteran's Preference - DD214 (Member 4 Copy) if you are requesting a special appointment authority, such as VRA or VEOA. Additionally, applicants claiming 10-point preference must complete Standard Form (SF) 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, as well as additional documentation required by the SF-15, such as a VA letter. 
    • Proof of severe disability if you are requesting special placement consideration
    • Proof of eligibility for any other special appointing authority not specifically mentioned here.
    Next Steps:
    After you apply, you will receive an automated acknowledgement email that your submission was successful. The staffing process to identify highly qualified candidates may take up to four weeks or more to complete. After the announcement closes and application reviews are done, you may be contacted by the hiring office if further evaluation or interviews are required. All applicants will receive written notification on the final outcome of the position.