Director, Office of International Relations

Washington, D.C
Jul 18, 2019
Jul 26, 2019
Full Time


The Director, Office of International Relations (OIR), leads an organization that serves as a focal point for international engagement for the Smithsonian. The Director identifies, cultivates, and sustains global relationships with governments, organizations, and universities to further scholarly work in the sciences, art, history, and culture. OIR supports Smithsonian unit priorities by facilitating cultural programming, museum education, and mutually beneficial areas of global interest.

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Advises the Secretary, the Under Secretaries, and other senior Smithsonian officials on matters relating to Smithsonian's international activities. Reviews and analyzes risks and benefits of international engagement, official relationships, and collaborations with the interests of the Smithsonian and coordinates and communicates results to stakeholders.

Supervises, assigns duties, assesses performance, promotes, awards, and disciplines or removes employees to accomplish the objectives of the program and the Institution. Plans for future needs of the international relations staff, prepares budget projections, and justifies and defends requirements to top management.

Serves as the principal staff liaison for the International Advisory Committee chaired by the Provost and Under Secretary for Museums, Education, and Research.

Works with units to facilitate relationships, in concert with unit directors, managers, curators, and scientists, recognizing the long-term and ongoing international relationships to programs and projects of Smithsonian museums, research centers, and educational programs.

Serves as an information coordinating point through the life cycle of all international Smithsonian research, collections, exhibition, and outreach programs by providing expert advice and recommendations to persons concerned with international activities, including Smithsonian leadership and staff, U.S. agency officials, and foreign dignitaries and officials for a wide variety of issues impacting SI international research, collections, exhibitions, and outreach programs. These stages include formulation, strategy setting, monitoring, and evaluation.

Develops and maintains contacts with the U.S. Department of State, U.S. and foreign embassies, and other governmental and private organizations in the U.S. and abroad, as well as others with an interest in Smithsonian international programs concerning art, history, culture, natural sciences and biodiversity, and partnerships in major programs or facilities. As authorized, represents the Smithsonian at national and international meetings and negotiating sessions with the Department of State, foreign governments, or institutions concerning cooperative research or outreach programs. Maintains up-to-date knowledge of actions, regulations, international protocols, and contracts involving such agencies to insure that Smithsonian interests are properly represented.

Advises the Secretary and other senior officials of opportunities for collaboration and other mutually beneficial interactions. Arranges for the Secretary's and other senior leaders' meetings with key stakeholders to exchange views and develop an understanding of the challenges and benefits of prospective projects. Disseminates information to relevant Smithsonian parties to ensure awareness of international efforts and opportunities.

Uses knowledge of international partnerships in scholarly and/or scientific research to identify opportunities to strengthen and add to Smithsonian activities that involve foreign areas. Contributes to the Institution's planning to maximize efforts in those areas, including the search for the resources to carry them through. Assists in drafting, negotiating, and/or reviewing supporting agreements where needed and appropriate. Performs these duties in close collaboration with unit directors in order to best represent their needs, efforts, and ambitions within overall Smithsonian policy and interests.

As requested, facilitates communications and logistical arrangements for research and participation in meetings abroad. These activities may involve, but are not limited to, creating international documents and correspondence, speeches, letters, cables, and records of international meetings; and obtaining passports and visas for Smithsonian travelers. Plans and carries out international programs within the framework of enabling legislation, agency overall policies, missions, objectives, and resources, utilizing an extensive knowledge and understanding of international conventions and customs.

Provides a point of contact and information for foreign visitors, dignitaries, and officials visiting the Smithsonian. Works with the Office of Government Relations, the Office of Special Events and Protocol, and the offices of senior management and unit directors as appropriate to coordinate such visits.

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential


Conditions of Employment

  • Pass Pre-Employment Background Investigation
  • May need to complete a Probationary Period
  • Maintain a Bank Account for Direct Deposit/Electronic Transfer
  • Males born after 12/31/59 must be registered with Selective Service



Applicants must clearly demonstrate the necessary level of managerial and leadership skills and competence to perform successfully in this position. This includes a degree in International Relations or an applicable subject matter field, or a combination of education and appropriate experience that provides knowledge comparable to that normally acquired through successful completion of a four year course of study in an applicable subject matter field. An advanced degree in International Relations or a related field is highly desired.

In addition, applicants must have one year of specialized experience at the GS-­15 level or equivalent private sector level. This experience is defined as the demonstrated knowledge and leadership skills related to management of a program that requires the identification and cultivation of international relationships with governments, private organizations and universities in order to facilitate: 1) cultural or museum programming; 2) museum education; and/or 3) research in the fields of science, history, art, and culture.

The applications that meet the basic qualifications will be evaluated further against the following criteria:

1) Demonstrated experience in the strategic planning, directing, and managing of a complex, high-level organization's international relations program and initiatives. This should include skills in building cooperative relationships with colleagues and negotiating solutions that address varied and complex, and occasionally opposing interests among varied stakeholders.

2) Demonstrated leadership experience working effectively with representatives of U.S. and foreign government agencies, dignitaries, universities, and private organizations and institutions. This includes an understanding of different national traditions and legislative frameworks and the ability to present a position effectively within international conventions and customs.

3) Demonstrated skills and experience in facilitating and managing international initiatives and programmatic activities pertaining to science, history, art and culture. This should also include experience conducting risk-analysis of current and/or potential international efforts.

4) Demonstrated ability and skills in leading and managing a multi-disciplined and culturally diverse workforce. This should include fostering teamwork and high morale; attracting, retaining and motivating employees; and implementing EEO/Affirmative Action policies and programs.


Additional information

The Associate Provost for Strategy and Organization, in consultation with the Provost and the Office of the Under Secretary for Museums, Education, and Research, provides administrative direction with assignments in terms of broadly defined missions or functions. The incumbent is responsible for independently planning, designing, and carrying out programs, projects, studies, or other work. Results of the work are considered technically authoritative and are normally accepted without significant change. If the work should be reviewed, the review concerns such matters as fulfillment of program objectives, effect of advice, and influence on the overall program. Recommendations for new projects and alteration of objectives usually are evaluated for such considerations as availability of funds and other resources, broad program goals, or national priorities.

This position has been reviewed to determine the level of POSITION SENSITIVITY. Based on the nature of the work, the position has been determined to be Public Trust/HIGH RISK. This designation will require 1) a pre-employment Security Agency Check (SAC) for the prospective incumbent; and 2) a subsequent comprehensive background investigation and favorable adjudication in order to continue in the position.

The Smithsonian Institution does not discriminate against any employee or any applicant for employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, age, membership in an employee organization or other non-merit factors.

The Smithsonian provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities. If you need an accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the contact person listed in this announcement. The decision on granting a reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Relocation expenses will not be paid.

How You Will Be Evaluated

You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.

The qualifications listed in this document will be used along with your resume and your responses to the questions posed in the electronic application process to determine the candidates who will move forward in the evaluation process. When crafting your responses to the questions, please provide concise, detailed information on your background and experience.

Applicants who meet or exceed minimum qualifications will be assigned to one of three category groups based on job-related criteria:

Best Category - Meets the minimum qualification requirements and excels in most of the job related competencies set forth above.

Better Category - Meets the minimum qualification requirements and satisfies most of the job related competencies set forth above.

Good Category - Meets the minimum qualification requirements, but does not satisfy most of the job related competencies set forth above to a substantive degree.

This category rating process does not add veterans' preference points or apply the "rule of three", but protects the rights of veterans by placing them ahead of non-preference eligibles within each category. A selecting official may make selections from the highest quality category (Best Category) provided no preference eligible in that category is passed over to select a non-preference eligible in that category unless the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 3317(b) or 3318(b) are satisfied.

Preference eligibles who meet minimum qualification requirements and who have a compensable service-connected disability of at least 10 percent must be listed in the highest quality category, except when the position being filled is scientific or professional at the GS-9 grade level or higher.

Applicants who have not submitted a resume in the USAJOBS system will not be considered for this position.

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 supported by your resume, you will be assigned a rating commensurate to your described experience. Your resume should provide sufficient information regarding how your education and experience relate to the major duties and qualifications criteria listed for this position.

PART-TIME OR UNPAID EXPERIENCE: Credit will be given for appropriate unpaid work on the same basis as for paid experience. Part-time experience will be credited on the basis of time actually spent in appropriate activities. To receive credit for such experience you must indicate clearly the nature of the duties and responsibilities in each position held and the average number of hours per week spent in such employment.

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Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance

Drug test required

Required Documents

  • Your Resume
  • Proof of Veterans' Preference - DD214 (Member 4 Copy), if you are a veteran. Additionally, applicants claiming 10-point preference must complete Standard Form (SF) 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, as well as additional documentation required by the SF-15, such as a VA letter.
  • Unofficial school transcripts, if the position has an education requirement or if you are using education to qualify. If selected for the position, you must provide an official transcript before appointment.
  • Proof of U.S. accreditation for foreign study, if applicable.

If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education .

Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

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