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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Director, Chandra X-Ray Center
Agency:  Smithsonian Institution
Job Announcement Number:  14-01

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 $165,300.00 / Per Year
Wednesday, November 27, 2013 to Monday, January 06, 2014
Full Time - Career/Career-Conditional.
1 vacancy in the following location:
Cambridge, MA View Map
Current Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) Senior Level employees with Federal career/career-conditional status or eligibility.  This position is only being filled by a lateral reassignment.
Q - Sensitive


About the Agency

This is the position of Director, Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) with High Energy Astrophysics, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The incumbent is responsible for directing CXC activities and staff so as to maximize the scientific return of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, one of NASA's Great Observatories.


  • Must file a Confidential Statement of Employment and Financial Interests
  • May be required to serve an 18-month probationary period for managers
  • U.S. citizenship required
  • Electronic funds transfer/direct deposit is required for salary payment
  • National and international travel may be required
  • No relocations expenses will be paid.


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1.  Directs all CXC activities and staff so as to maximize the scientific return of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, one of NASA’s Great Observatories. Supervises a team of senior scientists and provides top-level direction to an organization of approximately 200 people with a budget of approximately $55 million per year. Acts to insure Chandra health and safety and thereby maximize its longevity and overall science return.


2.  Serves as selection official for proposals recommended by the annual peer review cycle and for the Einstein Fellowships program. Provides leadership and exercises scientific expertise in conducting the Chandra Directors Discretionary Time (DDT) program. Reviews and approves triggers for peer reviewed Target of Opportunity (TOO) observations. Reviews and approves the annual calibration program. Works with the mission planning team to understand evolving constraints with implications for scheduling rapid response TOOs and DDTs as well as scheduling peer reviewed programs. Interacts with the science instrument and aspect camera experts to stay informed on evolving performance capabilities and the implications regarding optimized observing modes and potential science return. Assesses options identified by science data systems and data systems teams and works with them to set/approve priorities and schedules moving forward in a time of fixed resources. Provides direction to all other CXC activities including spacecraft and ground operations, science data processing, and data distribution and archiving. Oversees the Press and Public Outreach program for the CXC. 

 3.  Leads the effort to plan and prepare the biennial Chandra proposal to the NASA Astrophysics Division Senior Review and leads the presentations to the review panel.

 4.  Oversees, advises, encourages and stimulates scientific research activities of members of the CXC research staff in the field of high-energy astrophysics. Keeps abreast of new developments in research, suggests new avenues of investigation and new research methods and techniques, and maintains an awareness of the frontiers of knowledge in the field.

 5.  Participates with the SAO Director and High Energy Astrophysics Division Associate Director in the formulation of research plans and priorities for future directions for the Astrophysical Observatory. Participates as required in the evaluation and appraisal of the contributions by the divisional staff members and their collaborators.

 6.  Plans, initiates and conducts independent research in x-ray astronomy. Prepares scientific papers, presenting the results of these studies for publication in international scientific journals and/or for presentation at scientific and technical meetings and conferences.

 7.  As appropriate, prepares and submits proposals for the conduct of scientific research to various telescopes and funding sources. Encourages and guides other staff members in these activities.

 8.  Serves as a scientific leader and consultant to the research community and NASA on matters concerning the application of x-ray astronomy to the solution of significant astrophysical questions.

 9.  Serves on national committees developing plans to guide future directions for the field. Serves as speaker, panelist, conference leader, committee chair and in other similar capacities at national and international conferences, public forums and comparable gatherings.


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Minimum Education Requirements:
A) Degree in one or a combination of astronomy, physics, mathematics, space science or electronics, including course work in differential and integral calculus and 12 semester hours in astronomy or physics;   OR

B) A combination of education and experience equivalent to A above including at least 30 semester hours of courses equivalent to a major in any combination of astronomy, space science, physics, mathematics, and electronics with required course work as shown in A above.  

Specialized Experience: This position is only being filled as a lateral reassignment from current SAO federal Senior Level employees. Specialized experience includes experience directing, managing, or playing a lead role in a large multi-million dollar scientific, research or development program.

Part-Time or Unpaid Experience: Credit will be given for appropriate unpaid work on the same basis as for paid experience. Part-time experience will be credited on the basis of time actually spent in appropriate activities. To receive credit for such experience you must indicate clearly the nature of the duties and responsibilities in each position held and the average number of hours per week spent in such employment on your online resume.

For information on qualification requirements, see Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule Positions viewable on the web at


Your application will be evaluated first for the basic education and specialized requirements. Applicants that meet the basic qualifications will be evaluated further against the following criteria:

  1. Knowledge of astronomy and physics in general, and x-ray astronomy in particular.
  2. Knowledge of the NASA Science Center functions and processes.
  3. Knowledge of peer review and related processes for NASA's astronomy programs.
  4. Knowledge of the Chandra capabilities and achievements of NASA operation satellite programs.
  5. Knowledge of current astronomical scientific data analysis software and large data processing systems.
  6. Ability to lead, manage and administer scientific research programs.
Important Note: Your resume and supporting documentation will be compared to your responses to the occupational questionnaire or other assessment tool for consistency. If a determination is made that you have rated yourself higher than is supported by your resume, you will be assigned a rating commensurate to your described experience. Your resume should provide detailed information regarding how your education and experience relate to this position, including the major duties and qualifications criteria listed.
To preview questions please click here.


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


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    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 and submit required supplemental documents (if they are relevant to you).
    • You may submit required documents by uploading them online during the application process;
      You may manually fax required documents.  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.  
    • 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:
    • CV/Resume and Bibliography
    • The name, mailing address, telephone number and email address of four professional references


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


    You will receive an automated email acknowledgment that your application has been received. This may take several hours. We often receive a large number of applications for a job. We review each application carefully, and this process may take a few weeks. As we go through each round of review, we will send you an email to date you on your status.

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