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Job Title:
Administrative Specialist, GS-0301-12; $86,151 - $111,996 per year
Type of Position:
Federal- Career/CareerConditional
Job Location:
Maunakea, Hawaii
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION: This position is open to all U.S. Citizens or U.S. Nationals. Note: Federal employees with permanent status or individuals eligible for special appointing authorities may also apply to Job Announcement #23-118.


INTRODUCTIONSAO is at the forefront, internationally, of the scientific exploration of the universe. Its programs range from ground-based astronomy and astrophysics research to space-based research, the engineering and development of major scientific instrumentation for space launch and use in large ground-based facilities, and research designed to improve science education. The research objectives of SAO are carried out primarily with the support of Government and Smithsonian Institution funds, with additional philanthropic support.  Government funds are in the form of Federal appropriations or the form of contracts and grants from other agencies. In contrast, Institution funds are available to SAO through grants from the Institution's Restricted Funds, Special Purpose Funds, Bureau Activities, Business Activities, and non-Federal contracts and grants.


PURPOSE OF THE POSITION: This is the position of Administrative Specialist, for the Submillimeter Array (SMA), Radio and Geoastronomy Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Hilo, Hawaii. The SMA is an array of eight 6- meter diameter radio telescopes operating throughout the 1.3mm and 0.86 mm atmospheric windows (190-380 GHz). The Submillimeter Array (SMA) is a unique astronomical instrument designed to observe at frequencies from 230 GHz to 860 GHz with superconducting receivers.



  1. Provides specialized administrative and budgetary support in a wide variety of areas to the Submillimeter Array of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Support for the Submillimeter Array (SMA) currently consists of two offices located in Cambridge, MA, and Hilo, HI with approximately 60 employees (including federal, trust, contractors, post docs, students, interns, etc.) with an annual operating budget of approximately 7.5 million dollars.
  2. Coordinates all administrative matters for the SAO SMA group. This includes elements typical for a scientific and technical research group: personnel, travel, procurement, property, proposal generation and submission, communication, meeting logistics, and budget tracking.  Serves as approving official for all commitments, travel authorizations, purchase requisitions, government bills of lading, stipend forms, etc. against SMA funds.  Conducts the planning and preparation of SMA’s budgets for Smithsonian Federal, and Trust funds. Analyzes project expenditures and develops budgets covering estimated requirements for materials, services and supplies for the balance of the year. Makes budgetary recommendations to SMA Director based upon historical analysis of project expenses. Prepares budget draft, formats and documents final proposals. Makes comparisons of estimated expenses against actual balances, identifying variances, and either initiating corrective action or advising SMA Director as appropriate. Generates Central Engineering (CE) annual cost estimates for SMA’s planning purposes for use in preparing proposals to internal funding sources, as well as to advise CE of SMA’s labor requirements.  Participates in both short and long-term planning activities with SMA Director including staffing, equipment, space, and construction/maintenance projections. Researches, compiles and summarizes data concerning personnel salaries and related expenses and similar information needed for formulation of budget estimates.
  3. Manages the purchasing/contracting/expediting activities for SMA incompliance with SI and other government agencies as required. Procures a variety of items and services including hardware and software, specialized research, laboratory, scientific/technical materials, construction materials, components used in scientific or research and development type projects such as radar, microwave, communications or other automated/mechanical/electronics-based systems and other services. Serves as the administrative expert in purchasing/contracting procedures and regulations and provides guidance and recommendations to SMA Director and SMA staff scientists/engineers on the requirements of large, complicated scientific/construction procurements including development of statements of work and recommendation of best procurement approach.
  4. Active in the organizational planning, the preparation of personnel actions and position descriptions which apply to the SMA of approximately 60 staff divided among SAO Federal, Trust, Harvard University employees and post docs. Initiates required paperwork and follow-up for all personnel actions affecting SMA staff. Provides assistance, training and guidance to other SMA administrative staff on policies and procedures for financial, travel and personnel transactions for the SMA, and other issues as required.


Minimum of one year specialized experience (Federal or otherwise) equivalent to at least grade 11 that is close or similar to the work of this position.  Specialized experience would include activities such as Federal budgeting, contract administration, proposal preparation, program evaluation, personnel administration, procurement, financial administration, travel and general administrative support to a complex facility.


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.

For information on qualification requirements, see Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule Positions viewable on the web at

Part-time and/or unpaid experience related to this position will be considered to determine the total number of years and months of experience. Be sure to note the number of paid or unpaid hours worked each week.

Conditions of Employment: 

  • Successful completion of a pre-employment background investigation.                                                                   
  • A one-year probationary period is required.         


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.

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