The National Science Foundation is seeking qualified candidates to fill Program Director positions in the Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST), Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, in Alexandria, VA.Learn more about this agency
The mission of AST is to support forefront research in ground-based astronomy; to help ensure the scientific excellence of the U.S. astronomical community; to provide access to world-class research facilities through merit review; to support the development of new instrumentation and next-generation facilities; and to encourage broad understanding of the astronomical sciences by a diverse population of scientists, policy makers, educators, and the public at large. The Division supports research in all areas of astronomy and astrophysics as well as related multidisciplinary studies. Because of the scale of modern astronomical research, the Division engages in numerous interagency and international collaborations. Areas of emphasis and the priorities of specific programs are guided by community recommendations, which have been developed and transmitted by National Academies decadal surveys and reports, and by federal advisory committees. In the near term, AST is developing strategies to implement responses to the recent National Academies study on the ground-based optical/infrared telescope system and the mid-term review of progress on the 2010 decadal survey. Within the next two years, the Division will be working with NASA, DOE, and the National Academies to implement the next decadal survey in astronomy and astrophysics.
The candidates selected for this position will have responsibility in one or more of the following areas: coordination of the merit review of individual research proposals or instrumentation proposals; management oversight of one or more mid-scale instrumentation/science awards; management oversight of facilities; and interacting with other NSF programs, Federal and international agencies and organizations. Program Directors are expected to bring their scientific expertise to the activities of the Division, and to serve as a liaison between the astronomical community and NSF, disseminating information about NSF and Division activities and opportunities. Candidates are expected to work with the astronomical research and education community to broaden the diversity of participants in NSF programs.
More information about AST programs can be found here.
The responsibilities of the NSF Program Director are constantly evolving. The Program Director is guided by the goals of NSF’s Strategic Plan: (1) expand knowledge in science, engineering, and learning; (2) advance the capability of the Nation to meet current and future challenges; and (3) enhance NSF’s performance of its mission. The core strategies NSF staff employ include developing intellectual capital, strengthening the physical infrastructure, integrating research and education, and promoting partnerships. Duties include some combination of the following:
- Conduct appropriate oversight of facilities in operation or under construction, including activities such as review of budgets and annual program plans, and possible divestment or re-purposing of individual facility components.
- Manage program resources for individual investigator programs to ensure an effective, timely merit review process that (1) provides appropriate scientific judgment to insure integrity and consistency in the grant/declination process without conflict of interests, and (2) balances among appropriate sub-fields and institutions, including participation of all qualified proposers.
- As part of core program administration, increase the size and quality of the reviewer pools and ensure participation by women, minorities and disabled scientists in the review process.
- Plan the science strategy and budget for any individual investigator programs being managed, considering past, present and future fiscal years; allocate resources within that budget so as to distribute scarce resources among the most compelling scientific proposals, and manage post-award evaluation. Programs may focus on scientific research, instrumentation, training, or education.
- Develop and execute partnerships with other federal agencies, international partners, and private/university entities within the United States, for both mid-scale and large facilities, as well as smaller-scale individual investigator programs.
- Provide support to the research and educational communities served by the Division, Directorate and Foundation.
- Provide scientific expertise, evaluation and advice for other programs in NSF, including international programs, other research programs, cross-directorate and cross-agency programs.
- Advise and assist in the development of short and long range plans, establishing goals and objectives for research programs. As appropriate, incorporate the recommendations of Federal advisory committees (Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee; Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee) and their subcommittees, as well as input from National Academies studies, into the development of these plans.
Who May Apply
This job is open to…Applications accepted from U.S. Citizens.
Federal Appropriations Law requires that Non-Citizens meet certain eligibility criteria to be considered. Therefore, Non-Citizens must certify eligibility by signing and attaching this Citizenship Affidavit to their application. Non-citizens who do not provide the affidavit at the time of application will not be considered eligible.
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Conditions Of Employment
You will need to successfully complete a background security investigation before you can be appointed into this position.
Please preview "Evaluations" section and "Qualifications" for additional requirements and Quality Ranking Factors.
QualificationsApplicants must have a Ph.D. or equivalent experience in astrophysics, astronomy or solar physics, or in a closely-related field such as physics plus six or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience beyond the Ph.D.
This position is outside of the competitive civil service.
How You Will Be Evaluated
You will be evaluated on the extent and quality of your experience, expertise, education, and research activities relevant to the duties of the position.
We strongly encourage you to specifically address the Quality Ranking Factors below. This will ensure that you receive full consideration in the evaluation process.
Quality Ranking Factors
1. Knowledge and understanding of scientific principles and theories applicable to astronomy, astrophysics, and physics which have resulted in recognized status in the community of scientists.
2. Excellent written and spoken communication skills, including the ability to communicate effectively and work productively with the scientific community, peers, and co-workers at all levels to advocate program policies and plans and to fulfill NSF’s mission.
3. Knowledge of management and organizational concepts, principles, practices and techniques with expertise in applying this knowledge in science program management, project/collaboration management, research administration, and/or management of multi-user scientific facilities.
4. Ability to organize, implement and manage a proposal-driven process for programs ranging from individual grants to large research facilities, including insuring integrity and consistency in the review and management process.
To preview questions please click here.
Background checks and security clearance
In order to be considered for federal appointments, Non-Citizens must affirm that they meet the Appropriations Law eligibility criteria by signing and attaching this Citizenship Affidavit to their application. Non citizens who do not provide the affidavit at the time of application will not be considered. Non Citizens who are exempt from the Appropriations Law requirements due to their status as officers or employees of the U.S. government on December 16, 2009 must provide a statement with their application noting their exemption with documentation of proof of status as officers or employees of the U.S. government on that date.
You are strongly encouraged to submit a current performance appraisal and/or letter(s) of recommendation and a supplemental statement that describes how your background relates to the Quality Ranking Factors (QRFs) listed in the Qualifications and Evaluation Requirements section of this announcement. This information will be used in the evaluation process.
We also ask that you complete and submit the Applicant Survey. This will help NSF to ensure that our recruiting efforts are attracting a diverse candidate pool; it will be used for statistical purposes only.
You can fax or upload your letter of recommendation(s) or the individual(s) can email the letter of recommendation(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org ; please ask him/her to put your name and the job announcement number in the subject line.
Transcripts are not required; however, please indicate the year that each degree was obtained on your application materials.
All faxing/uploading must be completed before 11:59 PM Eastern time on the vacancy closing date.If you are faxing your information, please use extreme care in dialing the fax number to assure we receive your information. You will receive an email confirmation of receipt of your faxed/uploaded document(s).
If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:
Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.
A career with the U.S. Government provides employees with a comprehensive benefits package. As a federal employee, you and your family will have access to a range of benefits that are designed to make your federal career very rewarding.
Eligibility for benefits depends on the type of position you hold and whether your position is full-time, part-time, or intermittent. Contact the hiring agency for more information on the specific benefits offered.
How to Apply
Your application must be submitted online and all document faxing/uploading must be completed before 11:59 PM Eastern time on the vacancy closing date.
You must answer all of the job-related questions to ensure full consideration for this position. For more detailed information, please review our NSF eRecruit Frequently Asked Questions.
WARNING! Applications submitted online must have a valid email address. If your email address is inaccurate or your mailbox is full or blocked, you may not receive important communication that could affect your consideration for this position.
If you are unable to apply electronically, please use the Contact Information below for special instructions on how to submit your application materials. Hearing impaired individuals may call TDD (703) 292-8044 for assistance.
IMPORTANT NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER OR DATE OF BIRTH ON YOUR APPLICATION DOCUMENTS.
Agency contact information
AddressNATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
2415 Eisenhower Ave
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
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Shortly after the announcement closes, you will be notified as to whether or not you meet the basic qualification requirements. If you do, you will receive further consideration and evaluation. If the position is in the bargaining unit, and your application is referred to the selecting official, you will be contacted for an interview. Interviews for positions not in the bargaining unit may be conducted at the discretion of the selecting official. All qualified applicants will receive final notification of the outcome of the job opportunity announcement.
You may check the status of your application at any time on the USAJOBS website or by tweeting @NSF_Vacancies.
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The Federal hiring process is setup to be fair and transparent. Please read the following guidance.
Equal Employment Opportunity Policy
The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy And gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.
Reasonable Accommodation Policy
Federal agencies must provide reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation for any part of the application process should follow the instructions in the job opportunity announcement. For any part of the remaining hiring process, applicants should contact the hiring agency directly. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.
A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) must provide reasonable accommodations:
- An applicant with a disability needs an accommodation to have an equal opportunity to apply for a job.
- An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to perform the essential job duties or to gain access to the workplace.
- An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to receive equal access to benefits, such as details, training, and office-sponsored events.
Legal and regulatory guidance
This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/499497600. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.