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Job Title:
Supervisory Accountant (Business Operations Services), IS-0510, Grade 14; $138,046 to $179,462 annually
Type of Position:
Trust Fund Indefinite (Non-Federal)
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION:  This position is open to all eligible candidates. 

What are Trust Fund Positions?

Trust Fund positions are unique to the Smithsonian. They are paid for from a variety of sources, including the Smithsonian endowment, revenue from our business activities, donations, grants and contracts. Trust employees are not part of the civil service, nor does trust fund employment lead to Federal status. The salary ranges for trust positions are generally the same as for federal positions and in many cases trust and federal employees work side by side. Trust employees have their own benefit program and may include Health, Dental & Vision Insurance, Life Insurance, Transit/Commuter Benefits, Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance, Annual and Sick Leave, Family Friendly Leave, 403b Retirement Plan, Discounts for Smithsonian Memberships, Museum Stores and Restaurants, Credit Union, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (Childcare), Flexible Spending Account (Health & Dependent Care).


The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is at the forefront, internationally, of the scientific exploration of the universe. SAO combines its resources with those of the Harvard College Observatory to form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). The CfA is the best-known astrophysics center in the world. 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. 

The position leads and coordinates all administrative operations, finance and reporting, and the implementation of strategy and priorities to support the overall day-to-day business operations.  This includes oversight of SAO travel program, procurement card program, accounts payable, payroll services, cost transfers, and the HCO/SAO rebill process.  


Accounting Services:
Responsible for overseeing the management of accounts, ledgers, and reporting systems, ensuring compliance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), standards, and regulatory requirements. Oversees the preparation of monthly, quarterly, and annual budget reports, budget forecasts, and financial analyses. Manages monthly and fiscal year-end closing processes. 

Payroll group:

Ensures integrity and accuracy of HR/Payroll data through entry, audit, and validation.

Fellowship (pre- and post-doctoral) and Intern Management
Oversee payments for postdoctoral fellows, interns, and other non-employees. Responsible for the execution, administration, and closeout of Chandra X-Ray Center [CXC] scientific observing and Einstein postdoctoral fellowship subgrants on behalf of NASA.

HCO / SAO Rebill
Supports the relationship with the Harvard College Observatory. Seeks and implements new structures, as needed, to ensure the smooth operation of the entire Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Financial Management
Participate in the establishment of procedures for reviewing accounting data to provide adequate warning to the CFO and the Director of Trust Funds, OPMB, that an over-obligation or over-expenditure of funds is possible if timely corrective action is not taken.


Basic Requirements:
A.      Degree: accounting; or a degree in a related field such as business administration, finance, or public administration that included or was supplemented by 24 semester hours in accounting. The 24 hours may include up to 6 hours of credit in business law. (The term "accounting" means "accounting and/or auditing" in this standard. Similarly, "accountant" should be interpreted, generally, as "accountant and/or auditor.")

B.      Combination of education and experience: at least 4 years of experience in accounting, or an equivalent combination of accounting experience, college-level education, and training that provided professional accounting knowledge. The applicant's background must also include one of the following:

1.       Twenty-four semester hours in accounting or auditing courses of appropriate type and quality. This can include up to 6 hours of business law; or

2.       A certificate as Certified Public Accountant or a Certified Internal Auditor, obtained through written examination; or

3.       Completion of the requirements for a degree that included substantial course work in accounting or auditing, e.g., 15 semester hours, but that does not fully satisfy the 24-semester-hour requirement of paragraph A, provided that (a) the applicant has successfully worked at the full-performance level in accounting, auditing, or a related field, e.g., valuation engineering or financial institution examining; (b) a panel of at least two higher level professional accountants or auditors has determined that the applicant has demonstrated a good knowledge of accounting and of related and underlying fields that equals in breadth, depth, currency, and level of advancement that which is normally associated with successful completion of the 4-year course of study described in paragraph A; and (c) except for literal nonconformance to the requirement of 24 semester hours in accounting, the applicant's education, training, and experience fully meet the specified requirements.

Additional Requirements:  Candidates must possess at least one year of specialized experience at or above the grade 13 level in similar positions.  Specialized experience is experience that has provided the knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully perform the work of the position.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities required:

  • Deep understanding of financial and operational management, encompassing accounting, auditing, and integrating financial principles into diverse programs, systems, functions, policies, and related matters.
  • Mastery of and ability to apply advanced accounting principles, concepts, theories, and practices, including adherence to accounting standards. 
  • Demonstrated leadership capabilities, fostering collaboration and effective communication with diverse stakeholders.
  • Mastery of and extensive background in financial management, particularly in the context of scientific research and development programs.
  • Strong communication skills for articulate written and oral communication with various groups, staff, and executive management. 
  • Profound knowledge of regulatory frameworks, including OMB circulars, GAAP, Cost Accounting Principles, FAR, and financial management systems relevant to federal appropriations, research contracts, grants, and compliance audits.
  • Demonstrated expertise in negotiating overhead rates and advising clients during research contract negotiations with funding agencies, utilizing frameworks such as A-21 or A-122. 
  • Familiarity with professional interactions involving organizations like DCAA or ONR.
  • Proficiency in establishing and sustaining effective working relationships across all management levels, requiring tact, creativity, and resourcefulness. 
  • Strong analytical skills for identifying and resolving operational challenges, project planning and execution, team leadership, technology utilization, and continuous process improvement in alignment with organizational objectives.

The Smithsonian Institution values and seeks a diverse workforce. Join us in "Inspiring Generations through Knowledge and Discovery."

 Resume/CV should include a description of your paid and non-paid work experience that is related to this job; starting and ending dates of job (month and year); and average number of hours worked per week. College Transcript should be provided if using education for qualification.  

What To Expect Next: Once the vacancy announcement closes, a review of your resume will be compared against the qualification and experience requirements related to this job. After review of applicant resumes is complete, qualified candidates will be referred to the hiring manager.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The Smithsonian Institution provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation should contact Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.  To learn more, please review the Smithsonian’s Accommodation Procedures.

The Smithsonian Institution is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We believe that a workforce comprising a variety of educational, cultural, and experiential backgrounds support and enhance our daily work life and contribute to the richness of our exhibitions and programs. See Smithsonian EEO program information:

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace. Please visit the SAO website at

How to Apply:  Please use the following link to visit Smithsonian's Career Page:  Smithsonian Institution Job Opportunities Site


Conditions of Employment

  • Pass Pre-employment Background Check and Subsequent Background Investigation, as required.
  • Complete a Probationary Period if applicable. 
  • Maintain a Bank Account for Direct Deposit/Electronic Transfer.
  • The position is open to all candidates eligible to work in the United States.  Proof of eligibility to work in U.S. is not required to apply.

Applicants must meet all qualification and eligibility requirements within 30 days of the closing date of this announcement. 

Learn more about SAO Human Resources

Visit the SAO website