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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Assistant General Counsel
Department:  Department Of Agriculture
Agency:  Office of the General Counsel
Job Announcement Number:  AG-14-2014-0007

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

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$119,554.00 to $179,700.00 / Per Year
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 to Monday, December 23, 2013
Full Time - Permanent
1 vacancy - Washington DC, DC   View Map
All groups of qualified individuals


The closing date has been extended until December 23, 2013. 

The Senior Executive Service (SES) is comprised of the men and women charged with leading the continuing transformation of government. These leaders possess well-honed executive skills and share a broad perspective of government and a public service commitment which is grounded in the Constitution.

This position is in the SES, General. Positions in the SES are not graded. SES employees are also eligible for bonuses and awards based on performance. Veteran's preference is not applicable to the SES. Selectee is subject to a one-year probationary period, unless currently serving under an SES appointment. Visit additional information and benefits for SES employees.


If you would like to work for a premier agency that is focused on enhancing the quality of life for the American people by supporting production of agriculture: ensuring a safe, affordable, nutritious, and accessible food supply; caring for agricultural, forest, and range lands; supporting sound development of rural communities; providing economic opportunities for farm and rural residents; expanding global markets for agricultural and forest products and services; and working to reduce hunger in America and throughout the world, USDA is the place for you. To learn more about our agency, our exciting mission, vision, and guiding principles, please visit


  • You must be a U.S. Citizen to qualify for this position
  • You must be able to obtain/ maintain a background investigation
  • This position may be subject to random drug testing


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The incumbent serves as Assistant General Counsel responsible for assisting in managing and supervising the Marketing, Regulatory and Food Safety Programs Division, providing legal support to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). Legal support provided to AMS is critical to the proper administration of programs that facilitate the efficient and fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products, including food, fiber, and specialty crops. AMS programs include: Dairy; Fruit and Vegetable; Livestock, Poultry and Seed; Cotton and Tobacco; the National Organic Program; Science and Technology, and transportation and marketing. APHIS is a multi-faceted Agency with a broad mission area that includes protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, regulating genetically engineered organisms, administering the Animal Welfare Act and carrying out wildlife damage management activities. Legal support to these efforts impacts the overall mission of USDA to protect and promote food, agriculture, natural resources and related matters. Finally, the incumbent provides legal support to GIPSA, a USDA agency that facilitates the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseeds and related agricultural products, and promotes fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers and American agriculture. The incumbent supervises the provision of a full range of legal services to all of these agencies and programs, including the drafting and review of legislation, regulations, and other documents, the provision of both formal and informal legal advice, assisting the Department of Justice with the prosecution and defense of Federal cases, and conducting administrative litigation for the Department of Agriculture. Finally, the incumbent is responsible for completing special assignments from the Associate General Counsel involving matters of considerable complexity, sensitivity, difficulty, and significance to the Department's marketing, regulatory, and food safety programs.


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As a basic requirement for entry into the SES, applicants must provide evidence of progressively responsible leadership experience that is indicative of senior executive level managerial capability and directly related to the skills and abilities outlined under Mandatory Technical Qualifications and Executive Core Qualifications.


Typically, experience of this nature will have been gained at or above the GS-15 grade level in the Federal service, or its equivalent with state or local government, the private sector, or non- governmental organizations. Your resume needs to emphasize your level of responsibilities, the scope and complexity of programs managed, and your program accomplishments, including the results of your actions.  


Failure to meet the basic qualification requirement and all Mandatory Technical and Executive Core Qualification factors automatically disqualifies an applicant.

You must have a professional law degree (LL.B or J.D.) and be an active member of the bar of any state, the District of Columbia or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

You must be able to obtain/ maintain a background investigation


A. EXECUTIVE CORE QUALIFICATIONS (ECQ): All applicants must submit written statements. Your narrative response must not exceed two (2) pages per ECQ.


The ECQs were designed to assess executive experience and potential not technical expertise. They measure whether an individual has the broad executive skills needed to succeed in a variety of SES positions. All applicants must submit written statements describing accomplishments that would satisfy the ECQs.


There are 5 ECQ''s: ECQ 1 LEADING CHANGE, ECQ 2 LEADING PEOPLE, ECQ 3 RESULTS DRIVEN, ECQ 4 BUSINESS ACUMEN, and ECQ 5 BUILDING COALITIONS. You must address each ECQ separately. You are required to respond to all ECQs. If you fail to do so, you will be rated as 'ineligible.'


Each accomplishment should be clear, concise, and emphasize your level of responsibilities, the scope and complexity of programs managed, and results of your actions.

Additional information on the ECQs is available at



Fundamental Competencies: These competencies are the foundation for success in each of the Executive Core Qualifications; Interpersonal Skills, Oral Communication, Continual Learning, Written Communication, Integrity/Honesty, Public Service Motivation. The Fundamental Competencies are crosscutting; they should be addressed over the course of your ECQ narrative. It is not necessary for you to address the Fundamental Competencies directly as long as the narrative, in its totality, shows mastery of these competencies on the whole.


The following applicants may omit the mandatory ECQ narrative statements, but must provide proof of status as stated below.


1. Applicants who are currently serving under a SES-Career appointment or who are eligible for reinstatement into the SES. You must provide a recent Standard Form 50 (SF-50) that documents career appointment to the SES.


2. Applicants who are graduates of an OPM-approved SES Candidate Development Program. You must provide proof of OPM Qualification Review Board certification.


B. MANDATORY TECHNICAL QUALIFICATIONS (TQ): All applicants must submit written statements. Your narrative response must not exceed two (2) pages per TQ:


1.  Describe your demonstrated experience in providing sound oral and written legal advice and counsel to senior executives and management officials; in analyzing complex legal problems; in making sound legal decisions; an in supervising and managing highly skilled attorneys and support staff.


2.  Describe your demonstrated experience with Federal regulatory programs, including administrative law and procedure, and the development and implementation of regulations; and substantial knowledge of and experience in handling and supervising litigation in the Fedal courts and before administrative bodies. 

To view the application form, visit:


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Some of the benefits for which you are entitled to but not limited to are:

Federal Holidays

Annual & Sick Leave

Federal Employee Retirement System

Thrift Savings Plan

Federal Employees Health Benefits

Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance

Flexible Spending Accounts

Federal Long Term Care Insurance

For more information on these and many other benefits, go to:


Consideration for competitive selection for this position is open to all persons within the area of consideration who meet the basic qualifications. Race, color, age, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, religion, marital or family status, disability, and other non-merit factors will not be considered.


1. Relocation expenses will not be authorized.


2. This position is covered under the post-employment restriction of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-521). This law also requires the selectee to file an Executive Personnel Financial Disclosure Report (Standard Form 278), within 30 days of appointment.


3. Applications sent in U.S. Government postage-paid envelope and submitted through Federal Agency courier services will not be considered.


4. The 1993 Hatch Act Reform Amendments prohibit oral and written political recommendations for Federal jobs.


5. Male applicants born after December 31, 1959, must be registered with the Selective Service System before they can be employed by an executive agency of the Federal government. This requirement does not apply to Agency employees appointed before November 8, 1985.


6. All application forms are subject to the provisions of the Privacy Act and become the property of USDA.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is an Equal Opportunity Employer. USDA prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication or program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).


Reasonable Accommodation: This agency provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the agency at 202-720-4766. The decision on granting reasonable accommodation will be on a case-by-case basis.


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Please read the entire announcement and all the instructions before you begin.


You must complete the application process and submit all required documents electronically by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on the closing date of this announcement. Assistance is available during business hours (normally 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Monday - Friday). Applying online is highly encouraged. If applying online poses a hardship, please contact our office well before the closing date for an alternate method. All hardship hard-copy application packages with supporting documents must be received no later than noon on the closing date of the announcement in order to be entered into the system prior to its closing. This agency provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us if you require this for any part of the application and hiring process.


 You can apply for this position via on-line submission. Your online application must include the following documents:


1. Resume  

2. Responses to the Mandatory Technical Qualifications and Executive Core Qualifications.  

3. Supporting Documentation (See required documents for more information)


Candidates who do not submit complete application packages as indicated will not be considered.


Please be sure to remove all PII (e.g. SSN & DOB) from all documents.


Spell out Acronyms the first time used.


Applicants who cannot apply on-line, please mail or fax applications to the Agency Contact listed in the vacancy announcement.


Critical Submission Requirements and Reminders


1. Application and supporting documentation will not be accepted via e-mail. 

2. Please be sure to click both (FINISHED) buttons when completing your on-line application. 

3. Our online application system is 100% compatible with Internet Explorer (IE) version 5.0 and above.


A complete application package will require the submission of:


1. Resume, which must include all of the information listed below.


Vacancy announcement number


Full name, mailing and email addresses, day and evening telephone numbers


Country of citizenship


Information about your paid and nonpaid work experience related to this position including; job title, duties and accomplishments , employer's name and address, supervisor name and phone number, duration of employment, and salary and hrs per week


Educational information, including the name, city and state of colleges or universities attended, major as well as the type of degree received


Information about honors, awards, and special accomplishments


2. Responses to the Executive Core Qualifications


Submit a Supplemental Applicant Statement which addresses EACH of the ECQs separately. Please include your name and the vacancy announcement number on each page of the supplemental applicant statement. The purpose of this statement is to provide you, as an applicant, the opportunity to elaborate on your experience, training, and specifically, significant achievements which relates to the ECQs being used to identify the best qualified candidates for this vacancy. DO NOT simply repeat entries from other parts of your application package.


Please provide complete responses to the executive core qualifications. When addressing the five ECQs the total length of your statement must not exceed 10 pages (no more than 2 pages per ECQ) using 1 inch margins and a 12 point font.


An ECQ statement may include one or two examples of relevant experience. The number of examples is not as important as assuring that your experience matches the ECQ criteria, but please try to limit examples to a maximum of two to ensure a clear and concise narrative that flows.


Please provide your examples using the C-C-A-R Model(Challenge/Context/Action/Results), as described below:


a. Challenge: Describe a specific problem or goal.


b. Context: Describe the individuals and groups you worked with, and/or the environment in which you worked to tackle a particular challenge (e.g., clients, co-workers, members of Congress, shrinking budget, low morale.)


c. Action: Discuss the specific actions you took to address a challenge


d. Results: Give specific examples of the results of your actions. These accomplishments demonstrate the quality and effectiveness of your leadership skills. Examples of the CCAR model the preferred method of writing your ECQs can be found at:


3. Responses to the Mandatory Technical Qualifications


Submit a Supplemental Narrative Statement which addresses EACH of the Mandatory Technical Qualifications individually. Your narrative responses must not exceed two (2) pages using 1 inch margins and a 12 point font per Technical Qualification.


4. Supporting Documentation


If you are a Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program graduate, submit proof of the Office of Personnel Management's certification and a narrative statement addressing only the mandatory technical qualifications.


If you are a current or former SES member, submit documentation of SES status and a narrative statement addressing only the mandatory technical qualifications. For documentation, you must submit a copy of your Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50) showing your position, title, series, grade, and tenure.


Please be sure to include the announcement number on your application. Also, please omit your social security number from all pages of your application.



5. Submit proof of valid and active membership in good standing of any state, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. 



6. DO NOT submit any additional information, extraneous materials will not be considered.


Rhonda Pratt
Phone: (301) 504-4424
Fax: (202) 720-0027
Agency Information:
5601 Sunnyside Ave, GWCC Rm 2-2149J
Beltsville, MD,
Fax: (202) 720-0027


Applicants who meet the mandatory requirements in items A (Executive Core Qualifications), and B (Mandatory Technical Qualifications) above will be considered qualified for this position. Rating and ranking to determine the 'best qualified' will be conducted by a panel of experts and will be based upon consideration of the degree to which applicants meet the mandatory requirements as described in the announcement. Interviews and qualifications inquiries may be required.

The Executive Core Qualifications of the selectee are subject to prior approval by the Office of Personnel Management Qualifications Review Board (QRB). Unless you have already been certified by an OPM QRB in the past, your ECQs must be certified by an OPM QRB before appointment can occur. When reviewing Executive Core Qualifications Statements, the QRB is looking for experience as well as specific challenges, actions, and results.

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