This Position Is No Longer Available
  1. Overview
  2. Duties
  3. Qualifications & Evaluations
  4. Benefits & Other Info
  5. How to Apply

Job Title:Astronomer (Program Director)

Agency:National Science Foundation

Job Announcement Number:AST-2012-0009

This position is closed and no longer accepting online applications through USAJOBS.

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.


$105,211.00 to $163,957.00 / Per Year


Friday, June 29, 2012 to Friday, October 12, 2012




Full-time. - This position will be filled as a one or two year VSEE or as a Federal Temporary Appointment.




Few vacancies in the following location(s):
Arlington, VA, USView Map
22230View Map


Applications will be accepted from US Citizens.


This job opportunity announcement has been AMENDED to extend the closing date to Friday October 12, 2012.

Applicants wishing to apply for the Permanent Appointment should see Job Announcement AST-2012-0008.

Become a part of our mission to maintain and strengthen the vitality of the US science and engineering enterprise. For over 60 years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has remained the premier Federal agency supporting basic research at the frontiers of discovery across all fields, as well as science and engineering education at all levels.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking a qualified candidate for the position of Program Director in the Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST), Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS). The responsibilities of this position are two-fold: (1) Assist with the operations of NSF’s Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Unit (ESMU); and (2) when needed, assist in the management and administration of grant programs within AST.

The objective of NSF’s ESMU is to ensure the access of the scientific community to portions of the radio spectrum that are needed for research purposes. The ESMU staff accomplishes its objective by representing the interests of the NSF and the scientific community in various national and international regulatory bodies, including the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU); and by communicating with the science community about spectrum-related issues that impact scientific use of the radio spectrum. ESMU staff is also responsible for obtaining certification and frequency authorizations for radio systems operating under NSF control. ESMU is housed in AST, but provides spectrum management support for the entire NSF.

The candidate selected for this position will work with ESMU staff to establish NSF’s positions on a wide range of spectrum-related issues, and work within various national and international committees to further those positions. The successful candidate will also be responsible for making presentations at scientific conferences and advisory bodies on spectrum-related issues, and will interface with government and private-sector spectrum-using entities to coordinate frequency use.

The selected candidate may also be called on to assist in managing one or more grant programs within AST. Program management may include soliciting grant proposals, interfacing with current and prospective PIs, organizing and running scientific review panels, and making funding recommendations. The position may also include assisting in the oversight of national facilities that are funded through AST.

For more information about the Division of Astronomical Sciences, please visit here.



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    • Represents the interests of the United States’ scientific community within international and regional telecommunications communities
      • Participates in and contributes to the U.S. preparatory process for ITU Study Groups and Working Parties
      • Participates in and contributes to ITU Working Parties and Study Groups
      • Participates in ITU World Radiocommunication Conferences and Conference Preparatory Meetings
      • Participates in and contributes to regional coordination bodies, in particular the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL)
    • Represents the interests of the United States’ scientific community within the national telecommunications regulatory structure
      • Assists in representing the National Science Foundation at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee and its subcommittees
      • Serves as expert advisor and technical consultant to any element of the NSF and to other governmental organizations on the use of the electromagnetic spectrum for scientific research, particularly relative to electromagnetic spectrum management policy
      • Assists in representing NSF’s Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Unit at conferences, workshops, outreach events, and within NSF itself, to explain the value of the radio spectrum for scientific and engineering research
    • Provides spectrum support for NSF-funded projects and facilities
      • Assists in preparing applications for NTIA spectrum certification of NSF-supported radio systems
      • Assists in obtaining NTIA frequency authorizations for NSF-supported radio systems
      • Interacts with NSF facility personnel and NSF-funded PIs to maintain a two-way dialog on current spectrum issues impacting NSF investments
      • When necessary, assists in negotiating and executing coordination agreements with third parties on behalf of NSF-funded facilities and projects

    International travel is required, typically for one week at a time but occasionally for durations as long as five weeks.

    Duties related to managing grant programs may include:

    • Maintains a healthy balance of support for all the needs of the research and education enterprise either through program, division; directorate, Foundation, or interagency activities.
    • Manages program resources so as to provide optimal appropriate scientific judgment to insure integrity and consistency in the grant/declination process without conflict of interests, and with balance among appropriate sub-fields and institutions, and participation of all qualified scientists. Incorporate cross-directorate responsibilities into program administration.
    • Manages an effective, timely merit review process, with attention to increasing the size and quality of the reviewer pools and insuring participation by women, minorities and disabled scientists.
    • Conducts appropriate oversight of facilities, including preparation and execution of management competitions, as well as possible divestment or re-purposing of individual facility components.
    • Provides scientific expertise, evaluation and advice for other programs in NSF, including international programs, other research programs, and cross-directorate programs.
    • Advises and assists in the development of short and long range plans, establishing goals and objectives for research programs. As appropriate, incorporate the recommendations of the Astro2010 decadal survey and the ongoing AST Portfolio Review into division planning, and participate in the implementation of the response to the Portfolio Review.
    • Plans the budget for the program/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.


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    Applicants must have a Ph.D. or equivalent experience in a physical science, mathematics, geoscience, computer science, or electrical engineering field, and have a good working knowledge of RF engineering principles and terminology, plus six or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience beyond the Ph.D.

    U.S. citizenship and the ability to obtain a secret-level security clearance are required. Prior experience in radio spectrum management is highly desired. Fluency in Spanish is desirable but not required.

    You must meet eligibility and qualification requirements before 11:59 PM Eastern time on the closing date of the job announcement. You must answer all job-related questions in the NSF eRecruit questionnaire.

    All online applicants must provide 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.


    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 of RF engineering principles and terminology as demonstrated through work experience in the field of wireless communications, prior coursework, professional publications or presentations in the field of RF engineering, or other relevant experience.
    2. Experience in the field of radio spectrum management as evidenced by active participation in the NTIA, FCC, CITEL, and/or ITU processes, or by prior achievement of the Certified Spectrum Manager credential.
    3. Knowledge of a field relevant to one or more grant programs run by AST, as evidenced through professional publications or other related experience. Prior experience on an NSF review panel is helpful. Grant programs within AST are listed at
    4. Demonstrated ability to work effectively within formal committee settings in national and international arenas.
    5. Excellent spoken and written communications skills.

    To preview questions please click here.


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    For Visiting Scientist appointments, individuals are in a non-pay leave status from their home institutions and are appointed to NSF's payroll as Federal employees.  NSF withholds Social Security and provides reimbursement to the home institution for fringe benefits.  For information regarding Visiting Scientist appointments, visit our website.


    Relocation expenses will be paid subject to funds availability.

    For additional information on the NSF eRecruit system, please visit our NSF eRecruit Applicant Guide.


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    Your application should be submitted online and must be completed and all required documents successfully faxed or uploaded before 11:59 PM Eastern time on the 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 Applicant Guide.

    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) 292-5090 for assistance.



    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.

    You can fax or upload your letter of recommendation(s) or the individual(s) can email the letter of recommendation(s) to; please ask him/her to put your name and the job announcement number in the subject line.

    Faxing Instructions: Please print out the appropriate fax coversheet(s) and follow the instructions carefully.  All faxing must be completed before 11:59 PM Eastern time on the job announcement closing date.  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 document(s). 

    We also ask that you complete and submit the Applicant Survey Form.  This will help NSF to ensure that our recruiting efforts are attracting a diverse candidate pool; it will be used for statistical purposes only.


    Meredith Berwick
    Phone: 703-292-8267
    Fax: 703-292-9185
    TDD: 703-292-5090
    Agency Information:
    4201 Wilson Blvd
    Room 315
    Arlington, VA
    Fax: 703-292-9185


    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.  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.

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