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Job Title:
Administrative Specialist IS 0301, Grade 11; $71,987 to $93,588 annually
Type of Position:
Permanent - Indefinite Trust Fund Appointment
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

Area of consideration: Open to all current Smithsonian Institution employees



This is the position of Administrative Specialist to the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The purpose of the position is to perform a variety of administrative tasks and to coordinate production and submission of proposals. 


- Science Proposal & Other Documents Production Lead: Includes large proposal (science) production lead duties, document design, typography, layout, editing and volume management. Study Announcement of Opportunity (AO) closely to determine and interpret regulations and guidelines for document content and structure requirements in coordination with proposal Principle Investigators (PI).  Set workflow requirements and coordinate both science and engineering inputs as well as proposal internal (On Project) and external (Red Team) and coordinate proposal internal (On Project) and external (Red Team) review cycles. Maintain in depth, end-to-end knowledge of the proposal production process and requirements at all stages. Keeping up to date with technology developments via conference attendance.  Maintain expertise in most recent software packages for use in proposal development by attending annual Creative Pro/InDesign conference and other training sessions, including online learning resources (e.g., LinkedIn Learning platform), as required by the assignment. 

- Financial proposal coordinator for various sponsors, including NASA, NSF, HST, Chandra, Swift and others. Coordinate, prepare and submit grant proposals. Working independently, take overall responsibility for preparing and submitting grant proposals. Develop proposal budgets. Obtain requirements from Principal Investigator; research costs, including labor, travel, stipends, overhead rates, and other categories; and calculate estimated costs over period of performance. Identify allowable and unallowable costs. Work with PI to adjust plan if estimated costs exceed guidelines. Create appropriate spreadsheets, tables and other means to present budget data. Submit agreed upon budget and all other required documentation into SAO workflow. Track status until submission to sponsor and enter into grant modules (eg. NSPIRES, Fastlane, Chandra RPS) as required.

- Administration Duties to the Chandra X-ray Center HRC GTO and the Chandra Peer Review Teams. Monthly variance reporting, cost discrepancy identification and resolution, annual budget preparation and formulation based on inputs from PI for HRC GTO duties, as well as requisitioning and travel authorization preparation. Chandra PR duties include on-site support of the annual Peer Review meeting, which is held offsite. Expectations include on-site support for the duration of the meeting (usually 5 days), to perform duties including, but not limited to, initiating vendor enrollment forms, invitational letters, expense intake, voucher preparation, scanning, uploading voucher attachments into Concur Travel software. Special tasks as assigned.


Minimum of one year specialized experience equivalent to at least grade 9 in the normal line of progression for this occupation.  Specialized experience is experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular competencies/knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position such as office administration; sponsored project administration; procurement travel and document report preparation; utilizing Creative Pro InDesign software or software for NASA large proposal submissions or similar software for coordinating proposals.


Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree


3 full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to such a degree


a combination of education and experience

Additional qualification information including education substitution can be found from the following Office of Personnel Management website: Qualification requirements must be met within 30 days of the job announcement closing date.

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Visit the SAO website