HR: Employment Opportunities
 Job posting 20-01
Opening date: October 17, 2019
Closing date: January 3, 2020

TITLE: IT Specialist (APPSW), GS-2210, Grade 12; $75,247.00 to $97,825.00/yr
TYPE OF POSITION: Federal Career/Career-Conditional Appointment
DIVISION: - Optical and Infrared Astronomy Division, Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory
AREA OF CONSIDERATION: This position is open to all U.S. Citizens or U.S. Nationals (including Veterans recruitment). Excepted Service employees may also apply to this announcement. Federal employees with permanent status or individuals eligible for special appointing authorities should apply to Job Announcement #20-02.


The IT Specialist (APPSW) is located at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO). The FLWO is a geographically isolated, technically specialized and highly interactive scientific research environment in continuous 24 hours operation located on Mt. Hopkins with in the Coronado National Forest in Amado, AZ. The purpose of this position is to manage the computer systems that support a multi-telescope Observatory that operates a variety of instruments, each with custom software packages.


1. In cooperation with scientists and technical staff, utilizes a variety of programming languages and tools to design and implement the software required to support the operation of both current and future FLWO telescopes and related instrumentation. This includes tasks such as maintaining and updating existing telescope and instrument control system software and adapting it as needed to accommodate new subsystems such as guiders, and increasing the overall level of subsystems' automation.

2. Maintains, monitors, services, and upgrades all FLWO on-site computers, data storage, and network systems. These include computers integral to the telescopes, cameras, camera electronics, and calibration systems. Identifies and specifies the IT infrastructure needed for efficient operation, ensuring the compatibility of all on- site computing systems and their adherence to established hardware and software specifications. Maintains familiarity with IT infrastructure at the MMT Observatory to ensure mountain wide compatibility, and with software developed for use for scientific analysis to understand the evolving requirements for the acquisition and storage of large scientific data.

2. Budget formulation. Assemble and develop background material and documentation to support program budgets and assist with developing narrative justifications for proposed budgets. Prepare and present monthly budgetary summaries. Develop, analyze, prepare, maintain, and update periodic internal financial reports.

3. Troubleshoots computer hardware and software issues and recommends and/or executes corrective action. Coordinates work with other cognizant scientific, technical, management and/or operations staff as needed to minimize telescope downtime and expedite repairs when required.

4. Serves as FLWO network administrator and Webmaster. Administers security protocols established by SAO, the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Arizona. Specifies, designs, orders, installs and maintains computer hardware and software systems required to secure a multi-location mixed-hardware network. Collaborates with technical staff in Cambridge and Washington DC to ensure proper archival and network functions. Supports hardware and software procurement as needed.

5. Establishes and maintains a searchable and comprehensive web-based database of systems hardware, software, and network documentation.

6. In cooperation with other FLWO staff, supports overall telescope operations in a variety of areas. This includes troubleshooting, testing, maintenance, repair, and upgrades of the telescopes, cameras, and auxiliary systems' hardware; new user training; remote-observing support; and instrument changeovers.

QUALIFICATIONS:Basic Requirements

For all positions individuals must have IT-related experience demonstrating each of the four competencies listed below.

1. Attention to Detail - Is thorough when performing work and conscientious about attending to detail.

2. Customer Service - Works with clients and customers (that is, any individuals who use or receive the services or products that your work unit produces, including the general public, individuals who work in the agency, other agencies, or organizations outside the Government) to assess their needs, provide information or assistance, resolve their problems, or satisfy their expectations; knows about available products and services; is committed to providing quality products and services.

3. Oral Communication - Expresses information (for example, ideas or facts) to individuals or groups effectively, taking into account the audience and nature of the information (for example, technical, sensitive, controversial); makes clear and convincing oral presentations; listens to others, attends to nonverbal cues, and responds appropriately.

4. Problem Solving - Identifies problems; determines accuracy and relevance of information; uses sound judgment to generate and evaluate alternatives, and to make recommendations.


One year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-11 in the federal service and typically includes the following: a) utilizing a variety of programming languages and tools to design and implement the software required to support the overall operation, and in particular the control systems, of large data collecting instruments such as telescopes; b) maintaining and troubleshooting existing software; c) developing software to automate subsystems and d) serving as computer systems manager for a complex network involving multiple operating systems.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: We will only accept applications on line for this position. To view the complete vacancy posting, requirements and the procedures to apply, 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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