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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Astronomer (Program Director)
Agency:  National Science Foundation
Job Announcement Number:  AST-2014-0005

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

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$106,263.00 to $165,596.00 / Per Year
Monday, April 07, 2014 to Monday, June 30, 2014
Full-time. - Permanent.
Few vacancies in the following location(s):
Arlington, VA View Map
Arlington, VA View Map
Applications will be accepted from US Citizens. Recent changes in Federal Appropriations Law requires Non-Citizens to meet certain eligibility criteria to be considered. Therefore, Non-Citizens must certify eligibility by signing and attaching this Citizenship Affidavit to their application. Non-citizens who do not provide the affidavit at the time of application will not be considered.


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.


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


  • Background investigation.
  • Preview questions at bottom of Qualifications & Evaluations--see tab above.


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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.


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Candidates must have a Ph.D. in astronomy, astrophysics, physics, engineering, or a closely related field, plus after award of the Ph.D., six or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position. 

You will need to successfully complete a background security investigation before you can be appointed into this position. U.S. citizenship and the ability to obtain a security clearance are required.

Please preview "Evaluations" section and "Qualifications" for additional requirements and Quality Ranking Factors.


You will be evaluated on the extent and quality of your experience, expertise, education, and research activities relevant to the duties of the position. We strongly encourage you to specifically address the Quality Ranking Factors below.  This will ensure that you receive full consideration in the evaluation process.

Quality Ranking Factors

  1. Knowledge and understanding of scientific principles and theories applicable to astronomy, astrophysics, and physics which have resulted in recognized status in the community of scientists.
  2. Ability to communicate effectively and work productively with the scientific community, peers, and co-workers at all levels to advocate program policies and plans and to fulfill NSF’s mission.
  3. Knowledge of management and organizational concepts, principles, practices and techniques with expertise in facility management, large project management, and/or research administration.
  4. Ability to organize, implement and manage a proposal-driven process for programs ranging from individual grants to large research facilities, allocating resources to meet a spectrum of goals, including insuring integrity and consistency in the review and management process.

To preview questions please click here.


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You can review our benefits at:

A GREAT LOCATION! The National Science Foundation is conveniently located one block from the Ballston Metro Station, a few blocks from Routes 66 and 50, and about three miles from downtown Washington. Employees may rent parking spaces in the building garage. There are many shops and restaurants within easy walking distance. Employees receive the Federal benefits package and NSF offers:

• Pre-tax parking
• Public transportation subsidy
• Child development center on site
• Child care subsidy
• Flexible working hours
• Telecommuting
• Physical fitness facility on site
• NSF Federal Credit Union on site
• Health services unit on site
• Employee assistance program


If you do not have civil service status or reinstatement eligibility, you will not obtain civil service status if selected. If you are currently in the competitive civil service, you will be required to waive competitive civil service rights if selected.

This Program Director position is in the bargaining unit.

Relocation expenses may be paid subject to funds availability.

For more detailed information, please review our NSF eRecruit Frequently Asked Questions.


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Your application must be submitted online and all document faxing/uploading must be completed before 11:59 PM Eastern time on the vacancy closing date.

You must answer all of the job-related questions to ensure full consideration for this position. For more detailed information, please review our NSF eRecruit Frequently Asked Questions.

WARNING! Applications submitted online must have a valid email address. If your email address is inaccurate or your mailbox is full or blocked, you may not receive important communication that could affect your consideration for this position.

If you are unable to apply electronically, please use the Contact Information below for special instructions on how to submit your application materials. Hearing impaired individuals may call TDD (703) 292-5090 for assistance.



In order to be considered for federal appointments, Non-Citizens must affirm that they meet the Appropriations Law eligibility criteria by signing and attaching this Citizenship Affidavit  to their application.  Non-Citizens who do not provide the affidavit at the time of application will not be considered. Non-Citizens who are exempt from the Appropriations Law requirements due to their status as officers or employees of the U.S. government on December 16, 2009 must provide a statement with their application noting their exemption with documentation of proof of status as officers or employees of the U.S. government on that date.

You are strongly encouraged to submit a current performance appraisal and/or letter(s) of recommendation and a supplemental statement that describes how your background relates to the Quality Ranking Factors (QRFs) listed in the Qualifications and Evaluation Requirements section of this announcement.  This information will be used in the evaluation process.

We also ask that you complete and submit the Applicant Survey Form.  This will help NSF to ensure that our recruiting efforts are attracting a diverse candidate pool; it will be used for statistical purposes only.

You can fax or upload your letter of recommendation(s) or the individual(s) can email the letter of recommendation(s) to; please ask him/her to put your name and the job announcement number in the subject line.

Transcripts are not required; however, please indicate the year that each degree was obtained on your application materials.

All faxing/uploading must be completed before 11:59 PM Eastern time on the vacancy closing date. If you are faxing your information, please use extreme care in dialing the fax number to assure we receive your information.  You will receive an email confirmation of receipt of your faxed/uploaded document(s).


Phone: 703-292-8781
Fax: 703-292-7478
TDD: 703-292-5090
Agency Information:
4201 Wilson Blvd
Room 315
Arlington, VA
Fax: 703-292-7478


Shortly after the announcement closes, you will be notified as to whether or not you meet the basic qualification requirements. If you do, you will receive further consideration and evaluation. If the position is in the bargaining unit, and your application is referred to the selecting official, you will be contacted for an interview. Interviews for positions not in the bargaining unit may be conducted at the discretion of the selecting official. All qualified applicants will receive final notification of the outcome of the job opportunity announcement.

You may check the status of your application at any time on the USAJOBS website.

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