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Job Title:
Research Operations Manager, IS-0301, Grades 13-14; $116,820 - $179,462 per year
Type of Position:
Trust Fund (non-federal) Indefinite
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

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

NOTE: This is a career ladder opportunity with promotion potential to grade 14. Selection for this position will be made at the grade 13 or 14 level. Candidates may be non-competitively promoted to grade 14 upon the recommendation of the supervisor based on classification requirements, satisfactory performance, and qualifications of the employee. First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening date.


The Floating Business Operations Manager will be in the Director’s Office of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). SAO, with the Harvard College Observatory (HCO), comprises the Center for Astrophysics (CfA) | Harvard & Smithsonian. The purpose of the position is to serve as manager, on a temporary as-needed basis, for all the non-scientific aspects of any of the SAO’s Divisions, Centers, or Technical Groups [hereafter referred to as Stakeholder(s)] and specifically to administer sponsored projects, human resources, and financial functions; supervise administrative staff; provide effective administrative liaison within SAO and to HCO; and support the Division Chairs (DC) or lead PIs and other Observatory senior management in long-range planning and special projects as assigned. 


  • Serve as an administrator in non-scientific administration, supporting proposals and projects for near- and long-term division planning, including staffing, funding, space, and other resource requirements. 
  • Manages all aspects of the stakeholders’ internally and externally funded sponsored project activities.
  • Responsible for the Stakeholder's budget's practical and technical aspects.  
  • Oversees the Stakeholder’s human resources administration.
  • Serves as a project manager for ongoing initiatives, responsible for implementing major projects to change or enhance business practices, processes, and systems at the SAO. 
  • Performs other related tasks and participates in special projects as requested by the division chair or SAO senior management, including providing support in departments as time allows and as needs arise. 


Basic Requirements:
Candidates must possess at least one year of specialized experience at or above the grade (12 ) level in similar positions. Specialized experience is experience that has provided the knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the position's work.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities required:
Budget Administration: Thorough understanding of the principles and practices of budget administration and analysis, including preparing, justifying, reporting on, and executing budgets and the relationships among program, budgeting, accounting, and reporting systems.
Financial Management: Advanced knowledge of techniques for monitoring and managing expenditures to ensure cost effectiveness, including the use of cost-benefit analysis to set priorities, and specialized knowledge of SAO/SI financial processes and procedures.
Contracting/procurement: Specialized knowledge of various types of sponsored research contracts, grant proposal preparation and award administration requirements (for example, NASA or NSF), and related knowledge of procurement requirements such as Federal Acquisitions Regulations.
Research Administration: Knowledge of contract administration sufficient to monitor long and short-term research and/or development contracts that extend over several years and cover research, development, testing, and/or production of complex state-of-the-art scientific equipment and instrumentation.
Human resources administration: General knowledge of government performance management systems, recruitment policies and practices, and personnel policies and procedures. 
Communications skills: Ability to express information effectively in all formats, considering the audience and nature of the information; to make clear and convincing presentations; and to listen to others, attend to nonverbal cues, and respond appropriately.
Computer Skills: Advanced knowledge of and ability to effectively utilize enterprise applications and desktop software, including spreadsheets, databases, project scheduling, and document preparation tools.

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

The Smithsonian Institution provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation should contact the Human Resources Specialist listed. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis

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.  

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

Visit the SAO website at

The Smithsonian Institution is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We believe that a workforce comprising a variety of educational, cultural, and experiential backgrounds supports and enhances our daily work life and contributes to the richness of our exhibitions and programs. For more information on the Smithsonian EEO program please see 

Learn more about SAO Human Resources

Visit the SAO website