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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  General Counsel
Department:  Judicial Branch
Agency:  U. S. Sentencing Commission
Job Announcement Number:  #13-05

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

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$169,432.00 to $174,000.00 / Per Year
Wednesday, May 01, 2013 to Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Full Time - Excepted Service Permanent
1 vacancy in the following location:
Washington DC Metro Area, DC United States
United States Citizens


The United States Sentencing Commission, an independent agency in the Judicial branch of the Federal government, was organized in 1985 to develop a national sentencing policy for the federal courts. The resulting sentencing guidelines structure the courts' sentencing discretion to help ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive similar sentences.

The United States Sentencing Commission consists of seven members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate and two non-voting ex-officio members. The agency staff consists of approximately 100 employees. The Commission develops and revises guidelines for federal district court judges to consider in sentencing offenders convicted of federal crimes. The Commission monitors and evaluates the use of the guidelines, conducts research and education programs on guideline application and sentencing matters generally, produces sentencing-related reports, and recommends improvements in federal sentencing practices and policies. Additional information about the Commission can be accessed via the Commission's website at


  • U.S. citizenship required.
  • Individuals must undergo a fingerprint background check.
  • Employees are required to serve a one year probationary period.


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The general counsel is the principal legal officer of the Commission and director of the Office of General Counsel. The general counsel reports to the staff director and is responsible for representing the Commission and serving as the principal advisor to the commissioners and staff on legal matters. As the director of the legal unit, the general counsel is responsible for the supervision of a team of 10-12 attorneys and support staff, the operation of the unit, and the legal advice and representation provided by the unit to the commissioners and staff regarding the federal sentencing guidelines, criminal law issues, statutory and constitutional changes to the federal sentencing guidelines, agency policy, employment law, personnel matters, and ethical and administrative matters.


The position involves a wide variety of projects and responsibilities, many of which require supervision of tasks involving detailed analyses and review, recognition and consideration of all relevant legal principles and policy factors, and interpretation and application of these policies and principles in light of the particular circumstances involved, more specifically, concentrating on sentencing guidelines and criminal law.


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Progressively responsible legal experience with at least one year of specialized work experience (public or private) equivalent to the GS-15 level in the Federal Service is required. Specialized experience is experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position, and that is typically in or related to the work of the position described above.


Applicants must possess a law degree (J.D.) from an accredited law school and be a member in good standing of the Bar of a state, territory, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a Federal court of general jurisdiction. Applicants must have work experience sufficient to demonstrate the requirements listed below.


Applicants must address the following 5 Executive Core Qualifications and 6 Competencies in a cover letter or separate narrative:



The Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) define the competencies needed to build a federal corporate culture that drives for results, serves customers, and builds successful teams and coalitions within and outside the organization. The ECQs were designed to assess executive experience and potential, not technical expertise. Successful performance requires competence in each ECQ.


ECQ 1: Leading Change–This core qualification involves the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment.


ECQ 2: Leading People–This core qualification involves the ability to lead people toward meeting the organization's vision, mission, and goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts.

ECQ 3: Results Driven–This core qualification involves the ability to meet organizational goals and customer expectations. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks.


ECQ 4: Business Acumen–This core qualification involves the ability to manage human, financial, and information resources strategically.


ECQ 5: Building Coalitions–This core qualification involves the ability to build coalitions internally and with other Federal agencies, State and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals.


A competency (COM) is a measurable pattern of knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors, and other characteristics that an individual needs to perform work roles or occupational functions successfully. Competencies specify the "how" of performing job tasks, or what the person needs to do the job successfully.

COM 1: Understanding of the federal sentencing guidelines, federal criminal law and criminal procedure, and constitutional law. Comprehensive knowledge of the Commission's organic statute, the agency's rule making process, and the federal legislative process is highly desirable.

COM 2: Working knowledge of substantive legal areas necessary to conduct agency operations, such as personnel and employment law, contract law, ethics, and administrative practices and procedures. 

COM 3: Excellent legal analysis, writing, and editing skills. The applicant must possess the ability to express, orally and in writing, complex legal issues in clear and succinct language so that the concepts are understood by both lawyers and non-lawyers, and must also possess effective presentation skills in business meetings and public forums.


COM 4: Leadership in setting the workforce's expected performance levels commensurate with the Commission's strategic objectives, inspiring, motivating and guiding others toward accomplishment of goals.

COM 5: Superior administrative, managerial, and interpersonal skills, including: skill in supervising, motivating, and training a staff with diverse functions and varying skill levels; skill in planning, organizing, setting priorities, and completing multiple tasks of varying complexity, and skill in dealing effectively and advocating successfully with individuals at all levels both within and outside the agency.

COM 6: Knowledge of the Congressional legislative process as it relates to crime and sentencing policy.


The Commission evaluates applicants through a structured interview. Applicants may also be screened for some jobs through a narrative/application review, and/or a preliminary telephone interview. Applicants who do not address the qualification requirements in his or her application materials as stated in the vacancy announcement are automatically disqualified from consideration and must re-apply before the closing date to be considered for employment.


The Office of Human Resources: (1) reviews the applicant's application to ensure the proper materials are submitted, (2) ensures that the application addresses all of the qualification requirements as stated in the vacancy announcement; and, (3) determines whether the applicant meets the qualification requirements for the particular position and notifies the applicant about the status of his or her application. Applicants who meet the mandatory qualification requirements will be considered and their application materials will be forwarded to the screening panel for review. Applicants who do not meet the mandatory qualification requirements for the position are automatically disqualified from consideration.


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The Commission participates in the following federal benefits: The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program; the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program, federal retirement, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), and the federal leave program. In addition, the Commission participates in the Judiciary's Flexible Spending Program for dependent care, health care, and commuter reimbursement, the Judiciary's Long Term Care Program, or government-wide Long Term Care Insurance Program, unemployment, and workers' compensation benefits.   The Commission also offers a monthly transit subsidy to employees who use mass transit to commute to and from work, subject to the availability of funds.



This position is in the excepted service and does not carry the tenure rights of positions in the competitive Civil Service. All new Commission employees, those converted from a temporary appointment to a permanent appointment, and all rehired former Commission employees are required to serve a one year probationary period. The probationary period begins on the effective date of the employee's appointment, conversion, or rehire. Employment is subject to an appropriate background investigation. Applicants must be a citizen of the United States or eligible to work in the United States as mandated by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Employees are required to participate in electronic fund transfer, mandated by the Federal Compensation Act.


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To apply for this position, you must complete the occupational questionnaire and submit the documentation specified in the Required Documents section below. Your complete application must be submitted by 11:50 PM (EST) on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 to receive consideration.

To begin, click Apply Online to create a USAJOBS account or log into your existing account. Follow the prompts to select your USAJOBS resume and/or other supporting documents and complete the occupational questionnaire.

Click the Submit My Answers button to submit your application package.

It is your responsibility to ensure your responses and appropriate documentation are submitted prior to the closing date.

To verify that your application is complete, log into your USAJOBS account,, select the Application Status link and then select the More Information link for this position. The Details page will display the status of your application, the documentation received and processed, and any correspondence the agency has sent related to this application. Your uploaded documents may take several hours to clear the virus scan process.

To return to an incomplete application, log into your USAJOBS account and click Update Application in the vacancy announcement. You must re-select your resume and/or other documents from your USAJOBS account or your application will be incomplete.


All applicants are required to submit the following supporting document type(s):
   ·Cover Letter

Applicants may also submit the following supporting document type(s),which may not be required for all applicants:
   ·Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs)
   ·Other Veterans Document

Faxing Applications or Supporting Documents:

You are encouraged to apply online. Applying online will allow you to review and track the status of your application.

NOTE: If you applied online and your application is complete, do not fax the paper application (1203FX) as this will overwrite your prior online responses and may result in you being found ineligible.

If you completed the occupational questionnaire online and are unable to upload supporting document(s):

  1. To fax your documents, you must use the following cover page http;// and provide the required information. The Vacancy ID is 885465.
  2. Fax your documents to 1-478-757-3144.


If you cannot complete the application package online, you may fax all of your materials. The complete application package must be submitted by 11:50 PM (EST) on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 to receive consideration. Keep a copy of your fax confirmation in the event verification is needed.


To complete the occupational questionnaire and submit via fax:

  1. Click the following link to view and print the occupational questionnaire View Occupational Questionnaire.
  2. Print the 1203FX form,, follow the instructions and provide your responses to the occupational questionnaire items.
  3. Fax the completed 1203FX form, along with any supporting documents, to 1-478-757-3144. Your 1203FX will serve as a cover page for your fax transmission.


Mark R. Fife
Phone: (202)502-4627
Fax: (202)502-4777
Agency Information:
United States Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle NE
South Lobby Suite 2-500
Washington, DC
20002-8002 Fax: (202)502-4777


Once the online questionnaire and required documents are received you will receive an acknowledgement email that your submission was successful. After a review of your complete application is made, qualified applications will be forwarded to the screening panel for consideration.  If further evaluation or interviews are required, you will be contacted.

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