Job Overview


The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is part of what is arguably the largest and most diverse astrophysical institution in the world, where the staff carries out a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, and earth and space sciences. If you would like to join this exciting organization, apply today!

This is the position of Staff Assistant, Central Engineering Department (CE), Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). The purpose of the position is to provide general administrative expertise to the Director of Central Engineering (DCE) and Department Administrator (DA) in areas related to the overall operation of the department as well as administration of the CE Cost Center and Machine Shop.First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening date.


•Creates resource loaded, time phased, initial Microsoft Project engineering program management schedules, which are incorporated into the master labor assignment schedule. Incorporates frequent revisions into same.
 •Generates tailored monthly and weekly reports from the Earned Value Management (EVM) system (data pulled from MS Project schedules). Generates reports as requested for the DCE, Project Engineers, and Program Managers. These reports will include multiple Work Authorization Documents (WADs); the means by which each project will assign and adjust budgets for both engineering and Machine Shop labor and Machine Shop materials.
 •Coordinates/verifies customer funding authorization/approval for all CE labor and services. Works with program and/or funds managers to ensure that reserve budgets are sufficient to support labor charged for all projects, and that all audit requirements are met. Reports potential problems to the DA.
 •Solicits input and assists the DA in the preparation of the annual department submission as well as any CE contract (such as MAGIXS) or grant (such as JWST) submissions including collection of budgetary information and assembly of the final product. This may also include proposals to bring in outside work from the Machine Shop supervisor.
 •Maintains cognizance of SAO and CE administrative policies and procedures, and serves as an information source to department staff on administrative issues. Evaluates, recommends, and implements improvements to administrative procedures.
 •Provides general administrative support to the DCE, DA, Machine Shop supervisor and other department staff as requested. Supports the DCE, DA and senior engineering staff in special projects, and performs related administrative duties as required.
 •Becomes expertly familiar with the Machine Shop JobBOSS software tool. Utilizes it to effectively plan, status, and analyze machine shop production and material/supply purchases.
 •Maintains system of inventory of Machine Shop equipment and tooling and makes recommendations for improvements.
 •Generates requisitions. Identifies potential suppliers and obtains cost and delivery information. Determines and applies appropriate fund numbers. Tracks requisitions and expedites orders, as required. Negotiates terms for returns/exchanges, generates shipping documents and tracks items until orders are closed.
 •Creates travel authorizations. Maintains cognizance of, appropriately applies and administers all applicable travel policies, procedures, and documentation requirements and serves as an information source to travelers.
 •Generates travel vouchers for CE personnel. Reviews trip reports and related travel authorizations to ensure compliance with regulations and arranges any necessary amendments.
 •Revamps and maintains the department’s website. Seeks out input from appropriate engineering discipline/contact, obtains DCE’s permission and posts data.
 •Performs other assignments as required.