Job Overview


About the Agency

This job announcement was AMENDED to Extend the Closing Date to June 30, 2014.

Applicants wishing to apply for a VSEE or Federal Temporary Appointment should see Job Announcement AST-2014-0006.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking one or more qualified candidates for the position of Program Director in the Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST), Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), Arlington, VA.

The AST supports forefront research in ground-based astronomy; helps ensure the scientific excellence of the U.S. astronomical community; provides access to world-class research facilities through merit review; supports the development of new instrumentation and next-generation facilities; and encourages broad understanding of the astronomical sciences by a diverse population of scientists, policy makers, educators, and the public at large. The AST supports research in all areas of astronomy and astrophysics as well as related multidisciplinary studies. Because of the scale of modern astronomical research, the AST engages in numerous interagency and international collaborations. Areas of emphasis and the priorities of specific programs are guided by community recommendations, which have been developed and transmitted by National Research Council decadal surveys and by federal advisory committees.

For more information about AST and its programs, please visit here.


The candidates selected for this position will have responsibility in one or more of the following areas: management oversight of facilities, including planning and execution of facility management competitions; coordination of the merit review of research or instrumentation proposals; management oversight of one or more mid-scale instrumentation/science awards.

The candidates will be involved in activities that include planning, budget development, project/facility oversight, the merit review and proposal recommendation process, the preparation of written material about the research supported by the Division, and interactions with other NSF programs, Federal and international agencies and organizations. Program directors are expected to bring their scientific expertise to the activities of the Division, and to serve as a liaison between the astronomical community and NSF, disseminating information about NSF and Division activities and opportunities. There are opportunities to participate in Foundation or Directorate-wide activities in areas of education, facilities management, strategic planning, multi-disciplinary research, and program development.

The candidates are expected to work with the astronomical research and education community to broaden the diversity of participants in NSF programs. All areas of astronomical expertise will be considered; those with backgrounds in the oversight, management, and operation of large scientific facilities are especially encouraged.

As a Program Director in the AST, you will also be responsible for:

  • Conducting appropriate oversight of facilities in operation or under construction, including activities such as preparation and execution of management competitions, review of budgets and annual program plans, and possible divestment or re-purposing of individual facility components.
  • Developing and executing partnerships with other federal agencies, international partners, and private/university entities within the United States, for both mid-scale and large facilities, as well as smaller-scale individual investigator programs.
  • Maintaining a healthy balance of support for all the needs of the research and education enterprise through program, division directorate, Foundation, and interagency activities.
  • Providing scientific expertise, evaluation and advice for other programs in NSF, including international programs, other research programs, cross-directorate and cross-agency programs.
  • Advising and assisting in the development of short and long range plans, establishing goals and objectives for research programs. As appropriate, incorporate the recommendations of Federal advisory committees (Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee; Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee) and their subcommittees, as well as input from National Academy studies, into the development of these plans.
  • Managing program resources for individual investigator programs to ensure an effective, timely merit review process that (1) provides appropriate scientific judgment to insure integrity and consistency in the grant/declination process without conflict of interests, and (2) balances among appropriate sub-fields and institutions, including participation of all qualified proposers. Incorporate increasing the size and quality of the reviewer pools and insuring participation by women, minorities and disabled scientists and cross-directorate responsibilities into program administration.
  • Planning the budget for any individual investigator programs being managed, considering past, present and future fiscal years; allocate resources within that budget so as to distribute scarce resources among the most compelling scientific proposals, and manage post-award evaluation.

Relocation Authorized

  • Yes
  • Relocation MAY be paid on the availability of funds.