Chemist (Calibration/Instrumentation) AP-03/04
Department Of Agriculture - St. Louis, MO

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The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is a public health regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Our mission is to protect consumers by ensuring that the commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products moving in interstate commerce or exported to other countries is safe, wholesome and correctly labeled and packaged.

This position is covered by the Public Health Human Resource System (PHHRS) Demonstration Project. Effective July 19, 2009, FSIS began operating under the PHHRS, a Pay Banding and Pay for Performance Demonstration Project, in which non-bargaining unit positions will be classified by career path, occupational series, and pay bands rather than the traditional General Schedule (GS) grades in the Federal Service. The AP-02 pay band is equivalent to the GS-5/7 grade levels. The AP-3 pay band is equivalent to the GS-9/11. The AP-04 pay band is equivalent to the GS-12/13. If you are found to be one of the top quality candidates or a non-competitive referral and will be referred to the selecting official for job consideration, you may be asked to develop a written response to narrative/essay type questions in the second round of the application process. If this applies to you, you will be contacted by an agency representative. Please keep your records updated with your current email address. PHHRS will allow FSIS the flexibility to offer exceptional candidates higher salaries than most other Federal agencies. Additionally, employees will be eligible to receive an annual pay increase based upon performance. For more information on PHHRS, including information on its pay tables and how it will benefit employees, please visit PHHRS . This vacancy is located in the Office of Public Health Science, Midwestern Laboratory, St. Louis, MO.

DUTIES: The incumbent of this position performs analytical services associated with detecting chemical residues in meat and poultry products. Wet chemistry extraction and clean-up techniques include liquid/liquid extraction and solid phase extraction (SPE). Analytical chemistry detection techniques include colorimetry, chromatography, and mass spectrometry based on current technologies. Food samples are submitted to the laboratory by agency personnel in connection with regulatory monitoring and enforcement activities. The incumbent performs chemical analyses of increasing complexity to determine the presence of parts per billion levels of pesticides, and veterinary drugs by means of complex, selective, and highly sensitive instrumentation; and participates in the laboratory quality assurance program under ISO 17025 guidelines. The incumbent troubleshoots all instrumentation used in the analysis process, including gas chromatographs with electron capture detectors (GC-ECD) and triple quadrupole mass spectrometer detectors (GC/MS/MS); and high-performance liquid chromatographs with ultraviolet detectors (HPLC-UV), diode array detectors (HPLC-DAD), and triple quadrupole mass spectrometer detectors (LC/MS/MS).

QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED: Specialized experience is professional chemistry experience that is in, or directly related to, the line of work of this position, such as recent professional work in a food chemistry, food analysis or residue laboratory. The specialized experience should include analytical chemistry work that required the operation of a variety of instruments, including those mentioned above; strong training in instrumental analysis, and computer experience including programming and troubleshooting laboratory instruments.

As the instrumentation is acutely intertwined in the analyses process, it is crucial that the incumbent not only have the analytical skill to perform the analysis but also understand how the instrumentation is involved in each step of the process, and be able to make repairs or adjustments.

Applicants should also demonstrate experience or training in food chemistry quality control work that included the application of ISO 17025 standards and guides.

The level of responsibility and complexity of specialized experience gained will be used to determine the grade level for which you qualify. All responses to the job-specific questions must be substantiated by the resume submitted on-line. Applicants who do not respond to the application questions and who do not submit a supporting resume or the required documents will be rated ineligible.

Education Substitution: AP-03 : Two full years of directly related chemistry or food chemistry graduate education or a masters degree in an appropriate specialty or three full years of progressively higher level graduate education in food chemistry or a related PhD may be substituted for for specialized experience in order to qualify at AP-03.

There is NO education substitution at the AP-04 level.

Equivalent combinations of education and specialized experience may be qualifying for the position. To receive credit for your education if you are not already classified in the Chemist-1320 series, you must provide a copy of your transcript (undergraduate AND graduate) by the closing date of this announcement. Transcript must document specific course work completed & credit hours earned. You will not be considered for this position without this information. An unofficial photocopy of your transcript is acceptable. When academic credit on a transcript is expressed in terms that differ from U.S. conventional semester/quarter hours, it is the responsibility of the applicant to provide an official interpretation of such credits in order to equate them to the semester hours specified in the Qualifications Standard Handbook. for more information

There are two basic components of your experience that together define the qualification requirements. These components are:

  • Specialized experience (as stated below)
  • Education (as stated below)
    • In order to meet the specialized experience requirement, you will need to have completed 52 weeks of progressively responsible specialized experience at the next lower band/grade level within 30 days after the closing date of this announcement.
    • Education - all applicants must demonstrate successful completion of a full four-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor's or higher degree in the physical or life sciences, that included 30 semester hours in chemistry, supplemented by course work in mathematics through differential and integral calculus, and at least 6 semester hours of physics.

    All applicants must submit transcripts to verify completion of required education. (FSIS employees currently classified in the Chemist - 1320 Series are not required to submit transcripts.)

    HOW YOU WILL BE EVALUATED: Applicants are evaluated in accordance with Delegated Examining Procedures using category rating.

    All applicants are rated on the extent and quality of experience, education, and training relevant to the duties of the position. An automated ranking system based on the on-line application process is used. Before a certificate of names can be issued to the selecting official, the resume is reviewed carefully by an HR Specialist to assure that (a) minimum qualification requirements are met, (b) the resume supports the answers provided to the job-specific questions, c) that your resume addresses experience and education relevant to this position, and (d) copies of any require documents that need to be submitted. The highest ranking eligible applicants will receive a numerical rating, including additional points for Veteran's preference. Veteran's preference WILL NOT BE granted without proof as described under the "required documents" section of this announcement. The highest scoring, qualified applicants will be referred to the selecting official. Your resume must thoroughly support your responses to the applicant assessment questions. High self-assessment in the applicant questions that is not supported by information in your resume may eliminate you from best-qualified status and subsequent referral to the selecting official. Please note that "see resume" or a similarly unspecific response to a vacancy question may disqualify you from consideration.

    There are several parts of the application process that affect the overall evaluation of your application: the applicant assessment questions, the core questions, supplemental documentation submitted, and your resume. This automated application system simplifies the application process, by replacing the former KSA job-element questions with the on-line applicant assessment questions. Your resume is an integral part of the process for determining if you meet the basic qualifications of the position, and whether you are found to be best qualified. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly explain what you did and how you did it, rather than just listing your current and former employers.

    In order to ensure your resume contains the required information, click here for application and resume tips. NOTE: If you are changing series and/or your position involves the performance of more than one type of work, it is essential that approximate percentages of time be identified in your application for those specific duties you feel describe experience which will qualify you for this position as required by the specialized experience described in this announcement. Failure to provide approximate percentages could impact your qualifications determination for this position.

    If you are found to be one of the top quality candidates or are eligible for special hiring authorities and will be referred to the selecting official for job consideration, you may be asked to develop a written response to narrative/essay type questions in the second round of the application process. If this applies to you, you will be contacted by an agency representative. Please keep your records updated with your current email address.

    The automated system will place applicants in categories based on their responses to the on-line job related assessment questions, which are based on the duties and competencies required of the position. These categories are qualified, well qualified, and best qualified. Best qualified is the top category.

    Veterans who meet qualification requirements and have adjudicated veterans preference will be placed at the top of the category they fall into based on their answers to the assessment questions; this could be one of several categories, however, non-veterans cannot be selected over veterans that are in the same category.

    Only candidates in the top category are referred to the selecting official, unless categories are merged.

    Adjudicated veterans are those who meet the requirements for preference and submit legible documentation by the closing date of the announcement. A Member 4 copy of the DD-214 must be submitted, or a letter from the Veterans Administration specifying eligibility as a disabled veteran, and in either case, documents must specify an honorable discharge. For disabled veterans, the SF-15 is requested; in the absence of an SF-15, the VA letter specifying eligibility for preference and an honorable discharge is sufficient, assuming all requirements for preference are met.

    To preview questions please click here .

    BENEFITS: Working for FSIS offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes, in part, paid vacation, sick leave, holidays, life insurance, health benefits and participation in the Federal Employees Retirement System. The following web address is provided for your reference to explore the major benefits offered to most federal employees. To find out more visit: Benefit Information

    • Current U.S. Citizenship is required.
    • Selective Service registration requirements must be met by applicants for more information
    • Selectee may be required to work occasional weekends or holidays.
    • Full performance level of this position is AP-04. Non-competitive promotion may be made up to AP-04 upon meeting eligibility requirements. Promotion is not guaranteed, and will depend upon the incumbent's demonstrated performance, ability to assume additional responsibility, and ability to perform successfully at the next higher grade level.
    • Position will be filled at an AP-03 or AP-04 depending upon selectee's level of experience and/or education, and time-in-grade.
    • Entitlement to the payment of relocation expenses will be determined in accordance with the provisions outlined in FSIS Directive 3820.2
    • Multiple selections: This announcement may be used to fill additional, like vacancies should any occur in the commuting area.
    • If you are selected, you may need to complete a Declaration for Federal Employment (OF-306) prior to being appointed to determine suitability for Federal employment and to authorize a background investigation. False statements or responses on a resume or application can jeopardize employment and may be grounds for disciplinary action, including removal from Federal service.
    • A background investigation is a requirement for this position. Appointment will be subject to the applicant's successful completion of a background investigation and favorable adjudication. Failure to successfully meeting these requirements could lead to adverse action proceedings including possible termination.
    • FEDERAL LAW REQUIRES ALL EMPLOYERS TO VERIFY THE IDENTITY AND EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY OF ALL PERSONS HIRED TO WORK IN THE UNITED STATES. FSIS utilizes E-Verify to verify identity and employment eligibility by providing to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and, if necessary the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) information from each new employee's Form I-9 to confirm work authorization. E-Verify cannot be used to pre-screen job applicants or to re-verify current employees and may not limit or influence the choice of documents presented for use on the Form I-9. If you have concern that there has been a violation of the E-Verify program or you feel you have been discriminated during the verification process based on your national origin or citizenship status, contact the Office of Special Counsel at 1-800-255-7688 (TDD: 1-800-237-2515). For more information on E-Verify you may contact DHS at 1-888-464- 4218.
    • EEO/DIVERSITY POLICY: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
    • This Agency provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application process, please notify the Agency prior to the closing date. Decisions on granting reasonable accommodation will be on a case-by-case basis.

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