HR: Employment Opportunities
 Job posting 17-63
Opening date: August 31, 2017
Closing date: September 14, 2017

TITLE:Human Resources Specialist (Employee Benefits) GS-201, Grade 7; $44,810.00 - $58,258.00 Annually
TYPE OF POSITION: Federal Career/Career-Conditional
LOCATION: Cambridge, MA
AREA OF CONSIDERATION: This position is open to current and former Federal employees with permanent status or reinstatement eligibility within the local commuting area. Individuals who are eligible for a special appointing authority may also apply; such as applicants with a disability, former Peace Corps volunteers, certain military spouses, veterans seeking a VRA/VEOA appointment, or veterans who have been separated from armed forces under honorable conditions after 3 years or more of continuous active service.

Selection will be made at the grade 7 level. This is a career ladder opportunity with promotion potential to grade 09. The selected candidate may be non-competitively promoted to the grade 09 level, upon the recommendation of the supervisor based on classification requirements, satisfactory performance and qualifications of the employee.

This is the position of Human Resources Specialist (Employee Benefits) in the Human Resources Department of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). Working under the general supervision of the SAO Benefits Officer, the purpose of the position is to plan, organize and execute a wide variety of responsibilities in all areas of Federal and Trust Fund benefit administration, employee training, and personnel actions processing and operations. Services are provided to all segments of a scientific research organization staffed primarily by professional, technical, and administrative personnel.


Benefits Administration Duties:

1. Provides advice and assistance to SAO employees, supervisors and managers in the solution of problems associated with benefit programs, employee training, work-life programs, awards, etc., and, working with the SAO Benefits Officer, identifies best approaches to be taken or considered in resolving such problems.

2. Working with SAO Benefits Officer, performs administration of SAO's Federal and Trust Fund benefits plans and retirement programs. Must be familiar with each plan/program to provide answers to moderately technical questions. Researches moderately complex questions from available resources and provides feedback on the benefit options available to individual employees.

3. As assigned by SAO Benefits Officer, acts as a liaison among SAO and SI OHR, NFC, enrollment vendors and all insurance carrier representatives in resolving moderately complex, non-recurring benefits issues/problems. Participates in benefits meetings and conferences, as requested. Contacts are developed and cultivated to build rapport and ensure cooperation and the continuity of benefit program activity (e.g., health insurance coverage, proper payroll deductions, etc.).

4. Assists in the coordination of and preparation for a variety of annual drives and/or recurring activities for SAO. Drives and/or annual activities are announced to SAO employees, materials are ordered and distributed, and participating carriers/vendors attendance is confirmed, as applicable. Provides basic instruction and assistance to employees with online benefits enrollment systems. Maintains files for each drive/activity for historical reference. Annual drives include, but are not limited to, annual health fairs (i.e., Open Season), Combined Federal Campaign, Flu Shot Clinics and Health Risk Assessments conducted by SI OHS nurses, and TIAA and Federal retirement workshops.

5. Reviews all pertinent information for processing and preparing Federal retirement packages for review by the SAO Benefits Officer prior to submission to the Office of Personnel Management via the National Finance Center. Provides detailed annuity estimates to SAO Federal employees, as requested, utilizing FHR Navigation software. Assists SAO Benefits Officer in counseling employees concerning making service credit payments and post-1956 military deposits. Applies appropriate formulas in determining the estimated annuity computations. Using work samples and job aids, communicates with employees to provide clear explanation of related documentation required for effecting retirement.

6. Advises employees and supervisors of the process for online reporting of work-related injuries to the U.S. Department of Labor/Office of Workers' Compensation Programs. Interfaces with SI's Office of Health Services nurse case managers to ensure that required medical documentation is gathered timely and appropriately shared for submission to OWCP and case closure. Responsible for keeping abreast of all legal, regulatory and procedural changes within the FECA program

7. Assists the SAO Benefits Officer in administration of all leave policies, to include the Leave Transfer Program, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Family Friendly Leave Act (FFLA). At the direction of the SAO Benefits Officer, responds to inquiries from managers, supervisors, and/or employees of the procedures associated with each program.

8. Coordinates SAO awards program activities, to include the annual CfA service award ceremony, PRIDE (on-the-spot) awards, and Time Off awards. Reviews incoming requests and ensures that all supporting documentation is included.

Training and Development Duties:

1. Under direct supervision from the SAO Training Officer, provides counseling to supervisors and employees on matters related to training courses available to eligible employees. Reviews training requests and requests for reimbursement of tuition and related fees and materials ensuring that all requests are supported by required documentation.

2. Maintains training database for all training and tuition reimbursement requests. Reviews outstanding training requests and obtains proofs of course completion on a quarterly basis. Prepares statistical reports to supervisor and HR Director on a quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis, as requested.


To qualify for this position, applicants must meet all requirements by the closing date of this announcement.


GS-7: One (1) year of Specialized experience equivalent to the GS-5 level in the Federal service; OR One (1) full year of graduate level education (Must demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to do the work) or Superior Academic Achievement (To be creditable under this provision, superior academic achievement must have been gained in a curriculum that is qualifying for the position); OR Equivalent combinations of successfully completed graduate education and experience.

Specialized experience includes but is not limited to working knowledge of laws, regulations, policies, and precedents of Federal employee life insurance, health benefits, Thrift Savings Program; other non Federal employee benefit programs or similar; Experience applying rules, regulations, policies, and procedures relating to benefit programs; acting as a liaison between supervisors and employees to facilitate claims; providing training/and or conducting benefit seminars.

A transcript must be submitted with your application if you are basing all or part of your qualifications on education.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religions; spiritual; community; student; social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience


Only education or degrees recognized by the U.S. Department of Education from accredited colleges, universities, schools, or institutions may be used to qualify for Federal employment. You can verify your education here: If you are using foreign education to meet qualification requirements, you must send a Certificate of Foreign Equivalency with your transcript in order to receive credit for that education.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: We will only accept applications on line for this position. For complete information about this position and the online application procedures, please visit: USAJOBS

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace.

Visit our SAO website.


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