Smithsonian Institution - Cambridge, MA

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The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is part of what is arguably the largest and most diverse astrophysical institution in the world, where the staff carries out a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, and earth and space sciences. If you would like to join this exciting organization, apply today!

As an Accountant, works with and supports Financial Management staff by providing accounting assistance in solving accounting issues as well as implementation of new or revised regulations, policies, procedures or systems. Performs accounting activities involved in the maintenance of financial accounting records.
  • Pre- and post-appointment background investigation
  • Must maintain an account for Direct Deposit/Electronic Transfer
  • May be required to serve a one-year probationary period.

  • Reviews SI/SAO practices and policies relating to accounts payable vendor maintenance. Recommends solutions to processes to enhance work flow.
  • Applies a thorough knowledge of the total accounting system and of well- established accounting principles, techniques and regulations to process a wide variety of transactions. Makes recommendations or adaptations to guidelines and procedures to control transactions of an unusual or complex nature. Recommends solutions to processes to enhance work flow.
  • Performs quantitative analytical review of accounting data from multiple financial reports and queries at the request of management.
  • Documents and assists with implementation of new processes to record and maintain accounting information to ensure availability in a variety of formats, including Excel, to appropriate parties.
  • Uses excellent oral and written communications skills to establish relationships with SAO department and division administrators as well as with SI counterparts to resolve any concerns and discrepancies that may arise.
  • Analyzes data available in a variety of formats and initiates and executes appropriate cost distribution and allocation transactions using an integrated computerized accounting system and performs analysis leading to account reconciliation and variance resolution.
  • Provides input to the conception, design, development, documentation and implementation of new automated programs and procedures in the Financial Management Department.
  • Tests PeopleSoft codes and recommends accounts payable practices to ensure proper validation and recording of adjustments/corrections to the accounts payable module in order to verify transaction flow in an integrated system.
  • Oversees the SAO accounts payable staff documentation of errors and adjustments. Researches and rectifies problems as they arise and provides explanations to accounts payable staff regarding the actions taken.

QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED: This position has a Basic Educational requirement. All applicants must meet the following Basic Educational Requirements :

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").


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 that 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;

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 mentioned above.

In addition to the basic education requirements, candidates must meet the following specialized experience: One year of full-time experience at the grade 7 level (Federal or private sector) that is close or similar to the work of this position. Qualifying experience may have included the following: reconciliation of accounts, processing journal entries, analyzing expense reports and assisting with audits


Related master's or equivalent graduate degree, or 2 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree, if related.


Have a combination of graduate education and specialized experience that meets 100% of the qualification requirements for this position.

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.

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

HOW YOU WILL BE EVALUATED: Your application will be evaluated first for the basic qualifications described above. The applications that meet the basic qualifications will be evaluated further against the following criteria:
  • Professional knowledge of accounting sufficient to work independently, using conventional procedures and practices that apply to most situations encountered, including payroll and procurement.
  • Working knowledge of automated accounting systems that directly support accounting operations and enable the incumbent to analyze data, recognize errors, reconcile accounts, and run reports. Proficiency with standard office automation applications, such as word processing and spreadsheet applications.
  • Knowledge of a wide range of professional accounting principles and practices, including those particular to government fund accounting, to assess and ensure accuracy and validity of accounting data.
  • Knowledge of the necessary expense rule, allowability, allocability and reasonableness requirements of SI Financial Directives and 2 CFR 230 (OMB Circular A-122).
  • Skill in communicating effectively both orally and in writing.
Important Note:
Your resume and supporting documentation will be compared to your responses to the occupational questionnaire or other assessment tool for consistency. If a determination is made that you have rated yourself higher than is supported by your resume, you will be assigned a rating commensurate to your described experience.

Your resume should provide detailed information regarding how your education and experience relate to this position, including the major duties and qualifications criteria listed.
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    BENEFITS: The Smithsonian offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes, in part, vacation and sick leave, holidays, commuter benefits, health/life insurance, and accidental insurance. Please see Benefits at a complete description.


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