Program Director (Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Unit)

Division: Astronomical Sciences (MPS/AST)
Directorate: Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS)
Job Type:
Appointment Type:
Temporary / Rotator
Pay Grade/Scale:
This job is open to the public

Application timeline

Date Posted:
Closing date:
Formal consideration of interested applicants will begin and will continue until a selection is made.

Position Summary

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking qualified candidates for the position of Program Director within the Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Unit (ESMU), Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST), Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), Alexandria, VA. The objective of NSF’s ESMU is to ensure access by the scientific community to portions of the radio spectrum that are needed for research purposes, especially for radio astronomy. The ESMU staff members accomplish this objective by representing the interests of the NSF and the scientific community in various national and international regulatory bodies, including the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU); and by communicating with the science community about spectrum-related issues that impact scientific use of the radio spectrum. ESMU staff members also are responsible for obtaining certification and frequency authorizations for radio systems operating under NSF control. ESMU provides spectrum management support for the entire NSF, including radio astronomy, remote sensing, satellite systems, oceanography, ionospheric and magnetospheric radars, and routine operational systems that require spectrum support. ESM activities at NSF have significant crossover with science policy in general. For more information about AST and its programs, please visit here.

Position Description

The candidate selected for this position will be directly responsible for leading NSF’s efforts for the protection of radio astronomy domestically and at the ITU, within the ITU-R Working Party 7D (Radio Astronomy).  The candidate will assist in establishing an overall strategy for spectrum management within the NSF, setting NSF’s positions on a wide range of spectrum-related issues, especially related to the protection of radio astronomy, and working within various national and international committees to further those positions. The successful candidate will also be responsible for making presentations at scientific conferences and to advisory bodies on spectrum-related issues, and will interface with government and private-sector spectrum-using entities to coordinate frequency use.

Depending on the expertise of the successful candidate, the program director also may have the opportunity to assist in the program management of other programs within the Division of Astronomical Sciences. This may include soliciting grant proposals, interfacing with current and prospective Principal Investigators (PIs), organizing and running proposal review panels, and making funding recommendations.

The position recruited under this announcement will be filled under the following appointment option(s):

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Assignment: Individuals eligible for an IPA assignment with a Federal agency include employees of State and local government agencies or institutions of higher education, Indian tribal governments, and other eligible organizations in instances where such assignments would be of mutual benefit to the organizations involved. Initial assignments under IPA provisions may be made for a period up to two years, with a possible extension for up to an additional two-year period. The individual remains an employee of the home institution and NSF provides the negotiated funding toward the assignee's salary and benefits. Initial IPA assignments are made for a one-year period and may be extended by mutual agreement. 

It is NSF policy that NSF personnel employed at or IPAs detailed to NSF are not permitted to participate in foreign government talent recruitment programs.  Failure to comply with this NSF policy could result in disciplinary action up to and including removal from Federal Service or termination of an IPA assignment and referral to the Office of Inspector General.

Applications will be accepted from U.S. Citizens. Recent changes in Federal Appropriations Law require Non-Citizens to meet certain eligibility criteria to be considered. Therefore, Non-Citizens must certify eligibility by signing and attaching this Citizenship Affidavit to their application. Non-Citizens who do not provide the affidavit at the time of application will not be considered eligible. Non-Citizens are not eligible for positions requiring a security clearance.

To ensure compliance with an applicable preliminary nationwide injunction, which may be supplemented, modified, or vacated, depending on the course of ongoing litigation, the Federal Government will take no action to implement or enforce the COVID-19 vaccination requirement pursuant to Executive Order 14043 on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees. Federal agencies may request information regarding the vaccination status of selected applicants for the purposes of implementing other workplace safety protocols, such as protocols related to masking, physical distancing, testing, travel, and quarantine.

Candidates must have a Ph.D. in a physical science, such as astronomy, astrophysics, physics, engineering, solar physics, computer science, or a closely related field, plus after award of the Ph.D., six or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position.

Some of the education and/or experience must be in a field of research directly supported by the Division of Astronomical Sciences.

Should you be interested in a Program Director position, please e-mail a current CV accompanied by a cover letter highlighting the background that specifically relates to the program objectives to:

  • Dr. Debra Fischer, Division Director
  • Division of Astronomy
  • National Science Foundation
  • Email:

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