Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Staff Assistant
Agency:  Smithsonian Institution
Job Announcement Number:  13-26

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

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$51,871.00 to $67,427.00 / Per Year
Monday, July 29, 2013 to Monday, September 30, 2013
Full Time. - Indefinite Trust Appointment. This is not a Federal position.
1 vacancy in the following location:
Cambridge, MA, USView Map
This position is open to all qualified candidates eligible to work in the United States.


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.


  • May require a Pre- and post-appointment background
  • May be required to serve a one-year probationary period.
  • Direct Deposit/Elect Funds Transfer required for salary payment.


Back to top

•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.


Back to top

Experience: One year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade level in the normal progression for this occupation that has equipped the candidate with the particular knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position.  The experience may include activities such as creating and maintaining complex databases, managing a contract or grant and resourcing scheduling for a program effort. 
Education: master's or equivalent graduate degree or Two full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's or equivalent degree related to the position may be substituted to meet the experience requirements.
Combination of Experience and Education: Education and experience may be combined to meet the basic qualifications; for example, a half year of experience and a half year of education in the field may be qualifying.
Special Instructions for Foreign Education: If you are qualifying by education and/or you have education completed in a foreign college/university described above, it is your responsibility to provide transcripts and/or proof of U.S. accreditation for foreign study. For instructions on where to fax these documents, see the "Required Documents" section of this announcement.

Qualification requirements are derived from the Office of Personnel Management's Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule Positions viewable on the web at


Your application will be evaluated first for the basic qualifications described above. The online questionnaire will evaluate your experience, education, and/or training that address the competencies below: 
•Organizational skills to meet critical deadlines, execute multiple unrelated assignments simultaneously and the ability to work efficiently in an environment in which processes, procedures and task parameters may be changed repeatedly.
•Analytical, and oral and written communication skills, the ability to exercise tact and diplomacy in communicating potentially contentious information; to handle confidential or sensitive material and situations with discretion and mature judgment; and to interface effectively with administrative, technical and scientific staff at all levels on confidential or sensitive matters.
•Knowledge of computer systems, business software applications (including the MS Office suite and MS Project) to conceptualize, generate and use electronic spreadsheets and relational databases, to conduct web based procurement research, to design and produce financial/management reports, MS Project schedules and to be able to articulate and resolve complex procurement, travel, and timekeeping systems software issues with cognizant staff.
•Ability to create and modify webpage content for the department.
•Knowledge of, or skill in the principles and practices of financial management in order to monitor and track obligations and expenditures, review WAD’s and design reports of engineering labor costs.
•Knowledge of or skill in the techniques/procedures utilized in proposal preparation.
•Knowledge of, procurement and property management policies and procedures and a basic understanding of SAO and CE Cost Center funds accounting procedures.
•Ability to develop or recommend methods for automating and/or enhancing administrative processes and reports.
•Ability to work effectively both independently, and as an integral member of a diverse organization.
To preview questions please click here.


Back to top
The Smithsonian offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes, in part, vacation and sick leave, holidays, commuter benefits, health/life insurance, and accidental insurance. Please see Benefits at for a complete description.


The Smithsonian does not pay relocation expenses.
The Smithsonian embraces diversity and equal employment opportunity.


Back to top
Click on the "Apply Online" button on the upper right side of the page. Please Note:
  • You must apply for this position online through the 'Apply Online' button.
  • Faxes are received by an automated system, not a physical fax machine. Documents that are faxed as part of the application process must be sent with the system generated cover sheet by the closing date. Documents faxed without the system generated coversheet are not retrievable and cannot be considered as part of the application package.
  • Clicking the "DONE" tab does not submit your application. The "DONE" tab allows you to exit the system and save your information for completion at a later time. To submit your application, click the "FINISH" tab.
  • The complete application package, including any required documents, is due in the Smithsonian Office of Human Resources on the closing date of the announcement by 11:59 PM Eastern Time.
  • If you are unable to apply online, paper applications may be accepted with prior approval of the Contact Person listed below.


Your application package must include the following documents:
  • Detailed resume
  • School transcripts, if you are substituting education for experience.
  • Proof of U.S. accreditation for foreign study, if applicable.


Judy Gallagher
Phone: 617-495-7374
Fax: 617-495-7263
Agency Information:
Human Resources
60 Garden Street Cambridge, MA 02138
Mail Stop 17
Cambridge, MA
Fax: 617-495-7263


After you apply, you will receive an automated acknowledgement email that your submission was successful. The staffing process to identify highly qualified candidates may take up to four weeks or more to complete. After the announcement closes and application reviews are done, you may be contacted by the hiring office if further evaluation or interviews are required. All applicants will receive written notification on the final outcome of the position.

Back to top
EEO Policy Statement | Reasonable Accommodation Policy Statement | Veterans Information | Legal and Regulatory Guidance