Job posting 20-02
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
LOCATION: Amado, AZ
AREA OF CONSIDERATION: This Merit Promotion position is open to Current Federal Employees and Former
Federal Employees with permanent status or reinstatement eligibility. Individuals who are eligible for a special
appointing authority may also apply such as Individuals with Disabilities (Schedule A), former Peace Corps,
AmeriCorps, and Vista volunteers; certain Military Spouses, or individuals eligible under various programs for
Veterans (VRA, VEOA, 30% disabled).
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.
For all positions individuals must have IT-related experience demonstrating each of the four competencies listed
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
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
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.
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