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Job Title:
Program Manager, IS 0340 Grades 14 - 15, $124,851 - $176,300 annually
Type of Position:
Permanent - Indefinite Trust Fund Appointment This is not a federal position
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

The Program Manager supports the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's (SAO's) participation in current and future space-based missions and ground-based technology development. The Manager will take a lead role in conducting studies of NASA missions, submitting proposals for future mission opportunities, developing relevant technologies, and managing missions and projects.


This is a career ladder opportunity with promotion potential to grade 15. Selection for this position to be made at the grade 14 or 15 level. If selected at the grade 14 candidates may be non competitively promoted to the grade 15, upon the recommendation of the supervisor based on classification requirements, satisfactory performance and qualifications of the employee.   

  1. Provides programmatic management of project staff and subcontractors. Interactions are with high level astrophysicists and physicists, aeronautical, electrical, thermal, optical, and systems engineering staff at SAO, academic, industrial and government partners, and involve coordination and direction where required to assure the satisfaction of project requirements and priorities.
  2. Promotes effective programmatic, fiscal, and technical interfaces between SAO, customer project personnel, industrial partners, as well as between SAO personnel and other subcontractors by developing task statements, budgets, and schedules for subcontractors and SAO Central Engineering, defining functional support required, and overseeing their performances, ensuring that requirements are met and that the efforts are coordinated and integrated smoothly into the overall mission activity. Works one-on-one on an almost daily basis with SAO scientists and engineering staff.
  3. Participates in development and submission of new proposals for (1) space experiments including detectors and optics, generally, but not exclusively, in the area of X-ray astronomy, and (2) other areas as required. These activities will include, but are not limited to: identification of potential proposal opportunities; discussions with SAO scientists to select highest priority initiatives; generating requests for internal proposal preparation funding when relevant; contacting and discussing new initiatives with industry contractors as required; drafting and signoff of teaming arrangements as necessary; establishing management plans and budgets for proposal preparation; estimating costs and developing schedules for proposals; and writing, editing, and overseeing proposal preparation and submission.
  4. Estabs, maintains, and reports against program control and analysis systems to assess program progress and costs (including SAO subcontractor performance) in the context of program plans. Advises the supervisor of the practical and technical aspects of the organization's budget. Recommends budget adjustments including restructuring budget allocations or work plans to deal with changing situations such as varying costs for equipment, supplies, or services, changes in overhead, benefit, or salary rates and changes in the availability of funds. Verifies SAO monthly accounting reports and, in the event of any discrepancies, promptly notifies the SAO Controllers Office. Ensures that cooperative agreement or contract reporting requirements are met and that any submissions are complete, accurate and timely.
  5. Manages, monitors, and evaluates projects. Works with Principal Investigators and Project Managers to establish overall mission long-term and near-term plans and priorities, including specific task statements, budgets, manpower profiles and schedules. Takes lead in setting procedures for internal project reviews. Monitors actual performance through regular staff meetings and working reviews to ensure that assigned work is completed in a timely and competent manner. Responsible for Progress Reports summarizing work accomplished in the context of work planned and resources expended. Provides technical and programmatic guidance throughout this activity and leads effort to identify problems early and to generate workarounds and recovery strategies when needed.
  6. Provides programmatic, fiscal, and technical interface with customer Project Offices. Negotiates with funding agencies the Statements of Work, budget levels, and schedules covering overall content of the contracts. Organizes, prepares, submits, and negotiates follow-on proposals in response to recognition of additional requirements and in response to funding agency requests for proposals. Prepares, coordinates, and reviews program documentation including change proposals, technical specifications and requirements and progress/status reports. Directs the preparation and review of overall systems and subsystems documentation.
  7. Develops and presents technical and programmatic briefings in support of proposals, functional working group meetings, status reviews, and formal program reviews. Participates in appropriate mission panels and working groups.
  8. Performs other related duties as required.


Candidates for the grade 14 must possess a minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 13 that is in the normal line of progression for this occupation.  Such experience includes but is not limited to a significant role in managing and/or developing a NASA spaceflight mission, being part of a NASA (or another government agency), industry, or University technology development or mission study program.

Candidates for the grade 15 must possess a minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 14 in the normal line of progression for the occupation.  Such experience includes but is not limited to managing projects for a government or research organization and participating in proposal preparation. Such experience would have included managing a NASA spaceflight mission, being part of a NASA (or another government agency), industry, or University technology development or mission study program.

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

For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and its impact on your application, click on Smithsonian Institution’s Frequently Asked Questions

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


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