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

Job Title:PPQ Officer (Plant Health Safeguarding Specialist)

Department:Department Of Agriculture

Agency:Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Job Announcement Number:24PQ-2013-0077

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

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.


$31,315.00 to $61,678.00 / Per Year


Monday, January 28, 2013 to Wednesday, February 06, 2013




Full Time - Term appointment not to exceed 13 months; May be extended up to 4 years.




1 vacancy - Gladstone, MO, USView Map


This announcement is open to all United States citizens.


Relocation expenses will not be paid. 

The incumbent is the primary liaison for the Agency on operational activities and works with state officials, other agencies, colleges and universities and others interested in activities affected by Agency plant quarantine programs. The incumbent performs a variety of specialized duties that provide a comprehensive approach to biosecurity minimizing the risk of biological and economic damage caused by exotic, non-native plant and animal organisms to agriculture, natural resources and U.S. trade initiative involving overall plant health activities.

You can make a difference! The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP) needs bright, energetic and committed professionals to facilitate the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products and to protect the health and care of animals and plants in the United States. MRP offers an array of occupations and is committed to diversity in the workplace. We operate in domestic and global markets. Be part of an organization that protects the health and agriculture of the American people. Join our team!

This is a term appointment not to exceed 13 months. Appointment may be extended up to 4 years without reannouncing.  For more details click: Term Appointments

APHIS is an emergency response agency.  This means that all Agency employees may be asked or assigned to participate in rotating temporary duty assignments to support emergency programs at some time during their careers with APHIS. For details click: APHIS Emergency Response


  • U.S. Citizenship


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The duties described are for the full-performance level. At developmental grade levels, assignments will be of more limited scope, performed with less independence and limited complexity. The duties may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Responsible for managing multiple program areas and/or a multi-faceted program such as: post entry quarantine, gypsy moth, biological control, grasshopper/Mormon cricket, biotechnology, noxious weeds, or other pests for which a program is or will be developed.
  • Provides recommendations to the supervisor and staff on design and development of guidelines, operational standards and procedures.
  • Drafts proposals or work plans and financial plans to be used for survey, sampling, control, trace back, regulatory, methods development and improvement and/or eradication phases of programs or other projects.
  • Serves as accredited certifying official regarding export certification; the work includes interpreting foreign quarantine regulations to facilitate international trade, issuing Federal Phytosanitary Certificates (FPC), ensuring proper maintenance of the fee collection process.
  • Provides specialized inspection, regulation and clearance of high risk propagative plant material, plant products and pest diagnostic identification services at plant inspection stations and/or other facilities.
  • Plans, conducts, and/or supervises various treatments and remedial measures such as disinfection, sterilization, fumigation, cold treatment, hot water treatment, irradiation of regulated articles for plant and animal pests and diseases.
  • Broad range of responsibilities under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), including review of permits, seizure of shipments without proper documents, safeguarding seized or forfeited property, maintenance of accurate files on CITES transactions.


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To qualify, you MUST meet all qualification requirements by the closing date of the announcement.


A.  Degree: Applicants must have completed 4 years of college with a degree or coursework equivalent to a major (24 semester hours) in biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry, or a closely related discipline appropriate to the position.

SELECTIVE FACTOR: The qualifying degree must have included at least 20 semester hours in coursework such as agronomy, cell biology, botany, entomology, forestry, horticulture, mycology, nematology, plant pathology, soil science or other closely related courses. Applicants who do not possess or fail to submit documentation of completion of this requirement will be found not qualified. OR


Courses equivalent to a major, as shown in "Selective Factor" above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.


IN ADDITION TO MEETING THE BASIC REQUIREMENT AS LISTED ABOVE, SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE AT THE GS-7/9 GRADE LEVELS: Applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent in level of difficulty and responsibility to the next lower level in the federal service. This experience is typically in, or related to, the work of the position being filled. OR

SUBSTITUTION OF EDUCATION FOR EXPERIENCE AT THE GS-7 GRADE LEVEL: Successful completion of one full year of related graduate level education from an accredited college or university in biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry, or related disciplines appropriate to the position. OR

Superior Academic Achievement:  To qualify based on superior academic achievement, you must have completed the requirements for a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution AND must meet certain GPA requirements.  For more details click: Superior Academic Achievement.

SUBSTITUTION OF EDUCATION FOR EXPERIENCE AT THE GS-9 GRADE LEVEL: Successful completion of 2 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or master's or equivalent graduate degree from an accredited college or university in biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry, or closely related disciplines appropriate to the position.

Examples of qualifying experience include, but are not limited to at the GS-5/7 Grade Levels:

  • Professional knowledge of pertinent regulations, policies and procedures of agricultural quarantine principles and biological and scientific principles, techniques of collection and identification.
  • Experience in multiple program areas and/or multifaceted programs, such as post entry quarantine, emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, grasshopper/Mormon cricket, etc.
  • Drafting proposals or work plans and financial plans to be used for survey, sampling, control, trace back, regulatory methods development, etc.
  • Planning, conducting various treatments and remedial measures, such as disinfection, sterilization, fumigation, cold treatment, hot water treatment, etc…, for plant and animal pests and disease.

 Examples of qualifying experience include, but are not limited to at the GS-9 Grade Level:

  • Planning, coordinating and conducting all aspects of operational activities, including special programs, newly emerging programs or operational functions with cooperators, other government entities, industries, etc.
  • Planning, coordinating and conducting plant pest surveys and anticipating and providing solutions for problems in program areas.
  • Professional level experience executing containment facility inspections.
  • Professional level experience issuing Phytosanitary certificates.
  • Planning, conducting and/or supervising various treatments and remedial measures such as disinfection, sterilization, fumigation, cold treatment, hot water treatment, etc…, for plant and animal pests and disease.
  • Preparing and making formal presentations to internal and external audiences.

AT THE GS-7/9 GRADE LEVELS: Combinations of successfully completed related graduate level education and specialized experience may be used to meet total experience requirements. Only graduate level education in excess of the amount required for the next lower grade level may be combined with experience.

TRANSCRIPTS are required if:

  • This position requires specific coursework or a degree in a specific field to be basically qualified.
  • You are qualifying for the position based on education.
  • You are qualifying for this position based on a combination of experience and education.
  • You are qualifying for this position based on Superior Academic Achievement. [

This education must have been successfully completed and obtained from an accredited school, college, or university. For more information on submitting transcripts, click: Transcripts.

Special Conditions:

  • U.S. Citizenship
  • Males born after 12/31/59 must be registered with the Selective Service
  • DD214 (Member 4 copy)/veterans' documents for veterans' preference
  • Valid state driver's license required at time of hire
  • Travel (e.g., 3-5 nights per month) may be required
  • As a condition of employment, a background investigation may be required for this position.
  • Subject to satisfactory completion of one year trial period.
  • The individual selected for this position must be certified under the USDA, APHIS, PPQ, pesticide applicator certification program within 12 months after assuming the duties of the position. Failure to achieve certification within the specified time will result in appropriate corrective action.
  • Automobile Driving Requirements: Plant Health Safeguarding Specialists are required to operate a motor vehicle and must possess a valid State Driver's License at time of appointment.
  • ATTEND BASIC AGRICULTURE SAFEGUARDING TRAINING (BAST). The purpose of BAST is to provide relevant training to help PPQ Officers acquire new skills and knowledge to enable them to accomplish PPQ's mission. Officers certified through BAST will be able to conduct plant health safeguarding activities authorized by the Plant Protection Act of 2000 and related regulations.
  • The core instruction will take place at the Professional Development Center in Frederick, MD. Additionally, portions of this training will be completed at the employees' work unit. The time frame for completing BAST is within the first year of employment, but may be extended by the PPQ Program beyond this period, if necessary.


  • Your application will be rated on the extent and quality of your experience, education and training relevant to the position. Your resume must support that you meet the specialized experience requirements described above and are proficient in the following skills or competencies below. Please note you are not required to provide specific narrative responses to the skills and competencies described in this section.
    • Ability to perform entry and development level plant protection and quarantine work as a plant health safeguarding specialist.
    • Ability to conduct inspections and/or surveys to detect existing or potential threats to U.S. agriculture or other interests.
    • Knowledge of the methods and programs used to control, treat, eradicate and manage native and exotic pest populations and/or disease in the U.S. and ability to perform regulatory and complex treatment duties.
    • Knowledge of Federal Plant Protection and Quarantine programs pertaining to plant pests and the related importation and/or exportation of products.
    • Ability to facilitate safe trade and export certification in order to make U.S. agriculture competitive in world markets.
    • Ability to carry out permitting and compliance activities.
    • Ability to manage program and organizational effectiveness and efficiency.
    • Oral, written and interpersonal communication.
  • Category rating procedures will be used to rank and select eligible candidates. The following quality categories will be used: Best Qualified, Well Qualified, and Qualified. Within each quality category, veterans' preference eligibles will receive selection priority over non-veterans.
  • Your final category placement will be based on your responses to the assessment questionnaire. Please ensure your resume provides enough detail to support your responses.
  • If, after reviewing your resume and / or supporting documentation, a determination is made that you have inflated your qualifications and or experience, your score can / will be adjusted to more accurately reflect your abilities. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect your rating. Deliberate attempts to falsify information may be grounds for not selecting you.

To preview questions please click here.


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Eligibility for employee benefits depends on your type of appointment and your tour of duty (work schedule). Generally, you must be hired on a permanent basis and have a regular full or part-time work schedule. For more information on potential benefits, go to: Federal Employee Benefits


Range for GS-5: $31,315 to $40,706 (incl. 14.16% locality pay)

Range for GS-7: $38,790 to $50,431 (incl. 14.16% locality pay)

Range for GS-9: $47,448 to $61,678 (incl. 14.16% locality pay)

This salary range does not reflect the general pay increase scheduled

for April 2013. 


  • For information regarding CTAP eligibility for displaced Federal employees click: Career Transition Assistance Programs
  • More than one selection may be made if another vacancy occurs within 90 days of the issuance of the certification of eligibles.
  • Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc) should contact: USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).
  • For information on filing a complaint of discrimination, click: Filing a Complaint


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    A complete on-line application will require the submission of the following:
    • Resume
    • Responses to the vacancy specific questions (you will be prompted to complete these questions during the online application process)
    • Supporting Documentation which may be required (see links under Required Documents for more information)

    For instructions on using the on-line system click: APPLYING ON-LINE

    For instructions on submitting documents click: SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION


    Click on the following links to see if the supporting documentation is applicable to you:
  • College Transcripts or List of Coursework - MUST be English (Key Requirement and/or Education Substitution)
  • Foreign Degree Evaluation (Key Requirement and/or Education Substitution)
  • DD-214 (Member 4 Copy) and other Veterans' documents (Veterans Preference)
  • ICTAP/CTAP eligibility documentation (Displaced Employees)

    Critical Submission Requirements and Reminders

  • Help in applying online is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Time at the number listed in the Contact information section.
  • All application materials and supplemental documentation will be accepted until midnight Eastern Time on the closing date.
  • Application and supporting documentation will not be accepted via e-mail.
  • Due to the high volume of applicants, we are unable to confirm receipt of supporting documentation. If faxing, you should retain confirmation of a successful fax transmission including the number of pages successfully transmitted as proof of submission.
  • If a document is resubmitted, it replaces the previous submission, which means the previous document is no longer available to the human resources office. If you are adding to, rather than replacing a previous submission, you must fax and/or upload both the old document and the new document.
  • Applicants who cannot apply on-line must request a hard copy application packet from the Agency Contact listed in the vacancy announcement. Resumes and/or supporting documentation alone will not be considered without the inclusion of a hard copy application packet.

    Phone: 612-336-3345
    Fax: 612-336-3560
    Agency Information:
    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
    100 N 6th Street, Butler Sq Bldg, 510C
    Minneapolis, MN
    Fax: 612-336-3560


    You may check the status of your application on-line 24 hours a day through USAJOBS. Status updates will be available after 2-3 weeks. For instructions on checking your application status click: Checking My Application Status. No additional correspondence will be sent.

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