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

Job Title:Program Assistant (Farm Bill Program Assistant)

Department:Department Of Agriculture

Agency:Natural Resources Conservation Service

Job Announcement Number:AR-13-917994-AW

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 $50,431.00 / Per Year


Thursday, June 27, 2013 to Thursday, July 11, 2013




Full Time - Permanent




4 vacancies in the following location(s):
Monticello, AR United StatesView Map
Harrison, AR United StatesView Map
Searcy, AR United StatesView Map
Hope, AR United StatesView Map


United States Citizens


You will be a member of the team that has the mission of "Helping People Help the Land."

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides products and services that enable people to be good stewards of the Nation's soil, water, and related natural resources on non-Federal lands.

The incumbent provides administrative and technical support with the delivery and management of Farm Bill programs and NRCS technical assistance.



Applications will be accepted from all qualified U.S. Citizens.   

Read the entire job announcement and follow all instructions provided.


For more information about our agency click here .


  • You must be a United States Citizen.
  • Males born after 12/31/1959 must be registered with the Selective Service.
  • You must complete a FBI Background and Security Investigation.
  • You must have a valid state driver's license.
  • Incomplete applications will not be considered.
  • You must meet qualificatication requirements by closing date.


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  1. The primary duty of this position is to enter application and contract data into agency-specific software programs and prepare software generated reports.
  2. Provides a variety of information to program applicants and participants, such as specific program and eligibility requirements; guidance on completion of required program application materials; and explanations regarding contract payment processes and paperwork requirements necessary for conservation program participation
  3. Manages and processes conservation program applications and informs participant of eligibility requirements specific to Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation (HEL/WC) and Farm Tract Eligibility (FTE).   Analyzes problems with applications and takes remedial actions.  
  4. Reviews participant signature authority documentation for all aspects of applications and contracting documents according to agency policy.
  5. Manages Farm Bill program applications and contract administration letters and documents related to application status, status reviews, contract implementation, contract modifications, and potential cancellations or terminations. Maintains contract documents in case files according to agency policy.
  6. Manages assigned administrative duties for obligated conservation contracts and contract reviews. Provides administrative assistance on contract modifications, as developed by the field office technical staff, within the agency-specific software.  
  7. Assembles documentation required to process approved NRCS certified conservation payments.   Provides quality assurance that information on each document is complete per agency policy and guidelines.   Processes payment applications, as assigned, within the agency specific software.
  8. Serves on the area technical team and assures timely accomplishment of the assigned workload.   Assists office staff with appointment schedules and workload scheduling.   Assists with training to new employees and to field office support personnel.
  9. Assists with the presentation of progress reports, expiring contracts, and Root and Review.
  10. Obtain Level 1 Conservation Planner Certification.  
  11. Works with the Farm Service Agency (FSA), and land operators to ensure the applicant is current with program eligibility and payment limitations.
  12. Uses Microsoft Office programs (Word, Access, Excel) and computer based systems including Protracts, Toolkit and the Progress Reporting system, to create documents, reports, maps, and to track and report progress.   Inputs and retrieves program information from established tracking and reporting computer software systems.
  13. Schedules and follows up on workload to assure a timely reply or action.   Reviews outgoing correspondence for procedural and grammatical accuracy, conformance to general policy, factual correctness, adequacy of treatment.   Assists with collection of data and interprets information for special projects, reports, and news releases.


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Candidates must meet the Office of Personnel Management Qualification Standard Requirements for Clerical and Administrative Support positions.  

The qualifications for this position are described below and are published in the "Qualification Standards Operating Manual".   See



GS-5: One year of specialized experience equivalent to a GS-4 level in the Federal service OR 4 years of successful completion of education above the high school level. Education must have been obtained in an accredited business, secretarial or technical school, junior college, college or university. One year of full-time academic study is defined as 30 semester hours, 45 quarter hours, or the equivalent in a college or university, or at least 20 hours of classroom instruction per week for approximately 36 weeks in a business, secretarial, or technical school.


Equivalent combinations of successfully completed post-high school education and experience may be used to meet total experience requirements at the GS-5 level.


GS-6: One year of specialized experience equivalent to a GS-5 level in the Federal service.


GS-7:   One year of specialized experience equivalent to a GS-6 level in the Federal service.




Experience that equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA's) to perform successfully the duties of the position, and that is typically in or related to the position to be filled.   To be creditable, specialized experience must have been equivalent to at least the next lower grade level.


GS-5:  One or more years of specialized experience comparable to the GS-4 level performing the following duties under general supervision. Examples include: developing a familiarity with agency policy and procedures for specific programs; skill in using computer databases; a basic knowledge of accounting procedures and practices to ensure payments are complete and accurate; review documents for completeness and accuracy of information; and maintain files and records.

GS-6: One or more years of specialized experience comparable to the GS-5 level performing the following duties under general supervision. Examples include: a working knowledge of farm bill conservation programs; advanced computer skills, including utilization of databases related to accounting which requires manipulation of numeric data; a broad knowledge of accounting procedures and practices related to the review of contracts and payments for complete and accurate information; the ability to review documents for completeness and accuracy of information with very little guidance; and maintain files and records.


GS-7: One or more years of specialized experience comparable to the GS-6 level performing the following duties under general supervision. Examples include: Understands and applies agency program rules and regulations related to the administration of applications, payments, and contracting procedures for each Farm Bill program under NRCS responsibility; extracts information from data bases needed to develop reports related to scheduling, program tracking, and balancing of funds committed and spent; utilization of databases related to accounting which requires manipulation of numeric data; an in-depth knowledge of accounting procedures and practices related to the review of contracts and payments for complete and accurate information; ability to independently review documents for completeness and accuracy of information; and maintain files and records. 


At the GS- 5 level - education in excess of the first 60 semester hours beyond the second year is creditable toward meeting the specialized experience.  One full academic year of study (30 semester hours) beyond the second year is equivalent to 6 months of specialized experience.


As a general rule, education is not creditable above the GS-5 for most positions covered by this standard; however, graduate education may be creditable in those few instances where the graduate education is directly related to the work of the position.


All applicants must meet the education and/or specialized experience requirements by the closing date of this announcement.


Credit will be given for appropriate qualifying unpaid experience or volunteer work such as community, cultural, social service, and professional association activities on the same basis as paid experience.   To receive proper credit for unpaid experience or volunteer work, fully describe your responsibilities and show the actual time (years, months, and hours per week) spent in such activities.


Management has the prerogative to select at any grade level for which this position has been advertised.  If you are placed in this position at a grade lower than the target grade 7 ( i.e. the promotion potential grade), you may be promoted to the target grade without further competition.   However, there is no commitment or obligation on the part of management to promote you.   Your promotion will depend upon the continuing need for the level of work to be performed and your ability to perform the higher level duties.

A transcript must be submitted with your application if you are basing all or part of your qualifications on education.


If you are using foreign education to meet qualification requirements, you must send a Certificate of Foreign Equivalency with your transcript in order to receive credit for that education.

  • Public Law 104-134 requires that all federal employees receive salary payments via direct deposit.
  • You must have the ability to use a computer.
  • You must submit a complete application package to be considered for this position.  
  • If selected, must complete a FBI Background and Security Investigation.
  • If selected, must serve a probationary period of one year.


Your application will be evaluated and rated under the Category Rating and Selection Procedures.  Your resume must support your responses to the occupational questionnaire. We will review your resume and supporting documentation and compare this information to your responses on the occupational questionnaire to determine if you meet the minimum qualifications for this position.   If you are basically qualified for this position, we will evaluate your application package, using a panel of subject-matter experts or HR Specialist to assess the quality, depth, and complexity of your accomplishments, experience, and education as they relate to the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs)  for the position.  We will then place you in one of the following categories and only those in the Best Qualified category will be referred to the hiring manager for further consideration.

Best Qualified:  Applicants possess all of the job related competencies identified as important for successful job performance.

Well -Qualified:  Applicants possesses a majority (i.e., more than half) of the job related competencies needed for successful job performance.

Qualified:  Applicants meets the basic eligibility and minimum qualification requirements, but does not meet the definition of Well-Qualified or Best Qualified describe above.

Veterans’ preference is applied after applicants are assessed.  Veterans’ preference eligibles who meet the qualification requirements are place in the appropriate category and are listed ahead of non-preference eligibles.  Veteran preference eligibles that have a compensable service-connected disability of at least 10 percent are listed in the highest quality category, except in the case of scientific or professional positions at the GS-9 level or higher.

The assessment questions are based on the following KSA's:










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The Federal government offers a number of exceptional benefits to its employees. The following Web addresses are provided for your reference to explore the major benefits offered to most Federal employees.   This link provides an overview of the benefits currently offered to Federal employees.


1. If you are an eligible Interagency Career Transition Assistance Program (ICTAP) applicant you may apply for special selection over other candidates for this position. To receive consideration for special priority selection, individuals must be in the well-qualified category as defined above in the How You Will Be Evaluated section.  The well-qualified category is the middle category out of 3 categories.  ICTAP eligibles must submit one of the following as proof of eligibility for the special selection priority: a separation notice; a "Notice of Personnel Action" (SF-50) documenting separation; an agency certification that you cannot be placed after injury compensation has been terminated; an OPM notification that your disability annuity has been terminated; OR a Military Department or National Guard Bureau notification that you are retired under 5 U.S.C. 8337(h) or 8456.  You are to annotate in your application that you are applying as a CTAP or ICTAP eligible. To read more about CTAP or ICTAP eligibility visit:
2. If you are a veteran with preference eligibility and you are claiming 5-point veterans' preference, you must attach a copy of your DD-214 or other proof of eligibility. If you are claiming 10-point veterans' preference, you must attach an SF-15:, "Application for 10-Point Veterans' Preference" plus the proof required by that form. To determine if you are eligible for Veterans' Preference, click on the site shown below:
3. If you are a male applicant who was born after 12/31/59 and are required to register under the Military Selective Service Act, the Defense Authorization Act of 1986 requires that you be registered or you are not eligible for appointment in this agency.

4. All qualification requirements must be met at the closing date of this announcement. Additional information on the qualification requirements is outlined in the OPM Qualifications Standards Handbook of General Schedule Positions. It is available for your review on OPM's web site at

5.  Relocation Entitlements:  No Relocation entitlements are authorized.

6.  Probationary Period: Selectee is subjected to 12-month probationary period and can be removed for performance, budget, suitability, background or other reasons.

7.  Background Check:   Selectee is required to complete OF-306 and submit SF-85; Questionnaire for Non-Sensitive positions as part of the suitability and hiring process.  Questionable background findings impact employment eligibility.

8.  Vehicle Operation: Incidental Motor Vehicle operation may be required, have a valid State Drivers license is essential in the performance of required duties.

9. Direct Deposit Requirement: Public law 104-134 requires that all federal employees recieve salary payments via direct deposit.





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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.

The complete application package must be submitted by 11:59 PM (EST) on Thursday, July 11, 2013 to receive consideration.

  • To begin, click Apply Online to create a USAJOBS account or log in to 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 is submitted prior to the closing date.
  • To verify 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.


Required Documents:

ALL the following documents at the "Document Upload" screen, select the type of documents you are attaching for upload from the drop down menu on the left side of the screen:

  • Completed Occupation Questionnaire (Online Preferred)
  • Résumé or Option Application for Federal Employment form (OF-612)
  • College Transcripts to support education requirements (if applicable)
  • Veteran's Preference- DD 214 (If claiming any type Veteran's Preference)
  • SF-15 and Veteran's Administration letter (If claiming compensable Veteran's preference)

Select the "Browse" button and attach the file(s) you want to submit Press the "Upload" button to submit the document file(s).   You will receive and "upload Successful" acknowledgment when the file(s) have been receive.   If you have submitted all your materials using the recommended method listed above, you have completed the application process.   If you want to "Save" an incomplete Occupation Questionnaire and return later, select the "Save" button at the top or bottom of each of the application pages and click the "Logout" button.


You may use a resume or the OF-612: You do not need to provide both a resume and the OF-612.


Information required in a Federal Resume:

  - Full name, mailing address and day/evening telephone numbers

  - Social Security Number

  - Country of Citizenship

  - Highest Federal civilian grade held, job series, and dates of employment in grade

  - Work experience related to the job for which you are applying

  - Job title

  - Duties and accomplishments

  - Number of hours worked per week

  - Employers names and addresses

  - Supervisor's name and phone number

  - Starting and ending dates of employment (month and year)

  - Salary                    

  - Indicate if your current supervisor may be contacted


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 and provide the required information. The Vacancy ID is 917994.
  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 11:59 PM (EST) on Thursday, July 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 questionnaireView Occupational Questionnaire
  2. Print the 1203FX form, follow the instructions and provide your responses to the occupational questionnaire items
  3. Fax all six pages of 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.


Phone: (501)301-3180
Agency Information:



Once your Occupational Questionnaire has been received, you will receive an acknowledgement email that your submission was successful.  All information provided may be verified by a careful review of your resume, questionnaire responses, reference check, background check, and/or verification of education.  After a qualification review of your complete application package, you will be notified of the status of your application.  If further evaluation or interviews are required, you will be contacted.  Any exaggeration of your experience, false statements, or attempt to conceal information may disqualify you for consideration.  A job offer is typically made within 45 days after the deadline for applications.  You can track the progress of your application package in Application Manager at .

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