Plant Specialist

Washington, D.C
Oct 08, 2019
Oct 16, 2019
Full Time


This position is located in the Architect of the Capitol (AOC), Capitol Grounds and Arboretum (CGA), Gardening Division. The AOC is accepting applications for a Plant Specialist to serve as a Plant Health Care (PHC) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialist and provide leadership for the pest, disease and nutrient management programs with special emphasis on providing innovative approaches to managing the health of the living assets of the Capitol campus.

Learn more about this agency


The Plant Specialist will utilize biocontrol, integrated pest management and other advanced scientific plant health strategies and will be the lead CGA specialist collaborating with other specialist to safeguard the health of turf, trees and shrubs throughout the Capitol campus. Will also lead work performed by fulltime, seasonal and contract staff, and coordinate work activities with special events. Duties quoted at GS-12 level.

Major Duties:
  • Plans, coordinates and conducts pest, nutrient and disease management. Develops overall strategies and provides expert guidance to gardeners, horticulturists and arborists. Develops novel management programs and evaluates efficacy.
  • Manages the overall plant health program and prepares reports informing staff of practices and challenges. Leads biocontrol programs with an emphasis on sustainability and visitor and employee safety. Maintains thorough records of methods used and their efficacy.
  • Serves as principal pesticide, herbicide, fungicide and other plant health related chemicals expert for CGA. Responsible for implementing, planning, organizing and maintaining a CGA pesticide license recertification program. Serves as coordinator and expert CGA consultant for all pesticide applications. Mixes, applies and disposes of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and other related products. Applies chemicals in a manner to effectively control pests without creating a hazard to other workers and to visitors.
  • Ensures compliance with all safety regulations pertaining to the safe handling and use of pesticides. Follows directions on manufacturers' labels. Maintains accurate records of pesticide usage. Maintains records of pesticide labels, Safety Data Sheets and other technical information for pesticides following Federal and District of Columbia regulations. Maintains the inventory of pesticides in storage.
  • Prepares safety reports as required by controlling regulations and AOC policy. Serves as primary technical contact regarding programmatic and enforcement aspects for the pesticide program under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
  • Serves as principal liaison with plant health care researchers and specialist at United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Sentinel Plant Network and other national programs.
  • Designs sustainable and integrated plant health programs that meet the complex needs of CGA staffing, visitors, plant species (including culturally significant landscapes and memorial trees), environmental concerns and safety concerns.
  • Manages plant health risk as appropriate to a nationally significant arboretum with irreplaceable living specimens of outstanding horticultural or historical value. Liaise with AOC outreach staff to demonstrate sustainable plant health techniques to the public.
  • Ascertains the proper timing and degree of watering, pruning, feeding and insect and plant disease control. Tests and recommends soil amendments to improve landscape health. Tests and recommends appropriate fertilizer applications.
  • Manages financial obligations to the IPM program through development of budget justifications, monitoring spending and tracking accountable property.
  • Develops Scopes of Work (SOW) and serves as Contracting Officers Technical Representative (COTR) for various IPM and PHC contracts. As the COTR, ensures accurate and adequate oversight of contractor performance according to contract requirements. Performs timely inspections to ensure compliance with job specifications, quality, timeliness and budget authorizations.
  • Follows all relevant safety rules, regulations and standard operating procedures. Must utilize knowledge of and must comply with all OSHA safety rules and regulations to ensure that work progresses in a safe manner.

To apply pesticides in the District of Columbia (D.C.), the incumbent must possess a valid D.C. pesticide applicator's license in categories (3A) exterior ornamental plants, (3B) interior plant-scapes and/or (3C) turf grass, dependent upon the pesticides used.

Travel Required

Not required

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential


Conditions of Employment

  • You must be a U.S. Citizen.
  • You must be able to pass a drug test.
  • You must meet the definition of specialized experience.
  • You must possess a valid State motor vehicle operator's license.



You must meet the United States Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) qualification requirements (including specialized experience and/or educational requirements) for the advertised position. You must meet all eligibility and qualifications requirements by the closing date of the job announcement. Additional information on the qualification requirements is outlined in the OPM Qualifications Standards Handbook of General Schedule Positions. It is available for your review on the OPM web site at OPM qualification standards

Specialized experience is experience that has equipped you with the particular knowledge, skills and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position, and that is typically in or related to the position to be filled. To be creditable, specialized experience must have been equivalent to at least the next lower grade level.

Candidates for the GS-12 grade level must have at least 52 weeks of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-11 grade level in the Federal service.

Specialized experience is defined as:
(1) Designing and managing a sustainable and integrated plant health program; (2) Caring for trees, shrubs, herbaceous and turf of the mid-Atlantic region; (3) Applying pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other plant health related chemicals, and their applicable safety laws and regulations; (4) Utilizing biocontrol methods and techniques; and (5) Using an array of diagnostic tools and skills to identify plant health care issues and determining methods to rehabilitate unhealthy plants.

Candidates for the GS-11 grade level must have at least 52 weeks of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-09 grade level in the Federal service.

Specialized experience is defined as:

(1) Designing and managing a sustainable and integrated plant health program; (2) Caring for trees, shrubs, herbaceous and turf of the mid-Atlantic region; (3) Applying pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other plant health related chemicals, and their applicable safety laws and regulations; (4) Utilizing biocontrol methods and techniques; and (5) Identifying plant health care issues and determining methods to rehabilitate unhealthy plants.

Qualifying on Education for the GS-11

Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree or

3 full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to such a degree or

LL.M., [all graduate education must be related to the duties of the position]


Basic Requirements:

Degree: biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry, or related disciplines appropriate to the position.


Combination of education and experience -- courses equivalent to a major as shown above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

Special Instructions for Foreign Education :

Education completed outside of the United States must be deemed equivalent to that gained in conventional/accredited U.S. education programs to be acceptable for Federal employment.

Qualifying education from colleges and universities in foreign countries must be evaluated in terms of equivalency to that acquired in U.S. colleges and universities. Applicants educated in whole or in part of foreign countries must submit sufficient evidence, including transcripts, to an accredited private organization for an equivalency evaluation of course work and degree.

You must provide a copy of the letter containing the results of the equivalency evaluation with a course by course listing if selected.

Additional information

Welcome Veterans. The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 (VEOA) gives veterans' preference rights in the legislative branch to certain veterans as applied by the Congressional Accountability Act. Veterans' preference is applied on this vacancy announcement. If you are a veteran and have been separated under honorable conditions, you must submit a copy of your DD-214 or other proof of eligibility; SF-15, if applicable; and Department of Veterans Affairs documentation of disability, if applicable. For more information, please visit OPM vet guide

If you are a male applicant born after December 31, 1959, you must certify that you have registered with the Selective Service System. If you are exempt from registration under Selective Service Law, you must provide appropriate proof of exemption. Please visit the Selective Service System website for more information.

DRUG TESTING: The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) is a Drug Free Workplace. As part of the AOC's suitability assessment, a candidate tentatively selected for a position who is not a current AOC employee is required to submit to screening for illegal drug use. Satisfactory completion of a drug test is a condition of employment with the Agency. A candidate must test negative prior to being eligible for appointment into a position. We will schedule, provide, and cover the cost for the drug test.

The selectee(s) under the vacancy announcement for this position is subject to a criminal record check by the U.S. Capitol Police and satisfactory adjudication to be eligible for employment at the Architect of the Capitol.

The Architect of the Capitol is an E-VERIFY Participant. E-VERIFY is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment authorization in the United States. If you are selected for this position, the documentation that you present for purposes of completing the DHS Form I-9 will be verified through the DHS "E-VERIFY" electronic system. For more information on E-Verify, please visit

The Architect of the Capitol is an Equal Opportunity Employer and prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, age, national origin, genetic information, sexual orientation and/or disability.
This agency provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the agency. The decision on granting reasonable accommodation will be on a case-by-case basis.

Moving expenses are not authorized.

Relocation expenses are not authorized.

Probationary Period- A newly hired selectee(s) is subject to the completion of a one-year trial/probationary period, regardless of whether or not a trial/probationary period has been completed previously with the Architect of the Capitol or another Federal agency.

This vacancy announcement may be used to fill additional vacancies in any of the jurisdictions of the Architect of the Capitol.

All application materials become the property of the Architect of the Capitol.

How You Will Be Evaluated

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

Review your resume and responses carefully. Your eligibility for consideration and qualifications for the position will be determined based upon a review of your detailed resume and your responses to job specific self-assessment questions.

Your resume will be evaluated based on evidence of your ability to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) for this position, possession of any specialized experience, and how well your background and experience relates to the self-assessment questions in the job announcement. The self-assessment questions relate to the following knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies:

- Professional knowledge of biological sciences, agriculture or natural resource management disciplines such as plant physiology, entomology, botany, plant pathology, horticulture, plant genetics and soil science.

- Knowledge of the proper use of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved herbicides, insecticides and pesticides for control of plant infestations and diseases.

- Ability to manage an overall plant health program.

- Ability to collaborate with botanists, gardeners, and liaison with outreach staff and plant healthcare researchers and specialists.

Your responses to the self-assessment questions serve as the basis for your initial rating. You will receive a numerical score based on your responses to these questions. Next, your responses will be evaluated by a Human Resources Specialist and/or a subject matter expert against the information provided in your resume and optional cover letter. Your resume must support your answers to the self-assessment questions. Falsifying your background, education, and/or experience is cause for not hiring you or disqualification for further consideration.

Please note that a complete application is required for consideration. (Please review the "Required Documents" section of this job announcement to see what must be included in a complete application).

To preview questions please click here .

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance

Drug test required

Required Documents

The Architect of the Capitol's job application process is designed to ensure that we only ask you for the information that is absolutely needed to evaluate your qualifications and eligibility for the position.

To apply for this position, you only need to submit online the following: a) your resume and 2) answer the online vacancy assessment questionnaire. The online questionnaire contains eligibility and screening questions and other relevant supplemental information. No additional documentation or attachment is required at the time of application.

We ask that you prepare and submit a resume that best describes fully your background experience, skills, abilities, education, training and other relevant credentials. The resume should include dates of employment.

Nothing further is required until it is requested by the staff of the Human Capital Management Division. If additional documentation is required for a position, you will be asked to provide it during the selection process or upon selection. At that point, we may ask you to submit documentation to support statements made in your resume.

For example, we may ask you to provide documents such as college transcripts, copy of diploma or proof of Federal employment status. If the position requires a license or certification, we will ask candidate(s) to provide proof at the time of selection.

If you are claiming veterans' preference, we may ask you to submit proof of Veterans preference (DD-214, and, if claiming 10-point preference, the SF-15 plus proof required by that form).

If you fail to provide the required documents, we will withdraw a tentative job offer made and/or remove you from further consideration.

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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