Investigative Scientist

Alexandria, Virginia
Sep 16, 2020
Sep 23, 2020
Full Time


The National Science Foundation is seeking a qualified candidate for an Investigative Scientist position for the Office of Investigations (OI) within the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Alexandria, VA.

For more information on OIG please click here .

For more information on OI please click here .

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The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is responsible for conducting audits and investigations, and inspections of NSF programs and operations. OIG is also responsible for providing leadership and coordination and for recommending policies to: (1) promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in administering NSF programs and operations; (2) prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in NSF programs and operations; and (3) prevent, detect, and handle cases involving research misconduct. To keep the Congress and the public informed, OIG is required to publish a Semiannual Report to the Congress and the National Science Board.

The incumbent in this position serves as an Investigative Scientist in the Office of Investigations. The Office of Investigations conducts and supervises all investigations of allegations related to NSF programs and operations. It handles all civil and criminal allegations as well as all allegations of research misconduct.

The incumbent works under the supervision of the Director, Research Integrity and Administrative Investigations (DRIAI) who makes assignments by setting specific objectives. The incumbent (1) organizes and carries out assignments in a timely manner, and (2) submits reports, analyses, findings, and recommendations to the DRIAI who reviews the work and provides technical guidance.

The incumbent relies heavily on his or her knowledge of the U.S. research and educational system and exercises judgment and discretion in carrying out assignments. Many projects are self-generated and accomplished with moderate guidance or direction. The supervisor reviews the incumbent's work for technical quality, the soundness of the approach, and fulfillment of the assignment's objectives.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

The incumbent is assigned to the DRIAI and accomplishes his or her work in a timely manner. The incumbent's principal responsibility is conducting administrative investigations including investigations into allegations of research misconduct as defined at 45 CFR 689 and retaliation against whistleblowers as defined at 41 USC 4712. This includes recommending referrals of necessary inquiries and/or investigations as well as conducting any required inquiries and/or investigations as well as conducting any required inquiries and/or investigations.

As assigned, the incumbent plans, completes, and submits written reports on special studies, assignments, and projects that frequently cut across disciplinary and organizational lines. The products of these assignments must stand up to thorough and vigorous scrutiny by the U.S. scientific and academic community as well as the IG community. With supervisory guidance, the incumbent must interpret his or her and others' analyses and produce specific and implementable recommendations to enable NSF to implement efficiently and effectively its mission for science and engineering and for OIG to accomplish its mission.

The incumbent contributes written materials to the IG's Semiannual Report to the Congress. This requires some knowledge of NSF policies, activities, and procedures as adapted to the entire range of NSF programs. Basic knowledge of other federal agency policies, procedures, and practices is also required as is an understanding of scientific method, as developed through a completed doctoral research experience in a science or engineering discipline. The latter is particularly important for meaningful interactions internally with NSF program officers and externally with NSF grantees.

Also, as assigned, the incumbent assists the DRIAI by handling allegations of research misconduct as well as charges of improper actions by NSF staff and by participating in outreach activities. These activities require familiarity with the science and engineering research and education community so as to convene knowledgeable panelists or consult experts in the course of investigating allegations of research misconduct.

In carrying out the OIG functions, the incumbent coordinates his or her activities as appropriate with NSF program officers, with those outside NSF, as well as outside the federal government. The incumbent must be able to work easily and effectively with scientists, engineers, and attorneys, and be inclusive, flexible, and innovative.

In order to maintain adequate professional competence, the incumbent engages in relevant training activities and attends and participates in professional scientific or engineering meetings as appropriate.

Travel Required

Occasional travel - Travel may be required - up to 20%

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential


Conditions of Employment

  • Background investigation.
  • Selective Service registration required for male applicants, unless exempt.

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. Foreign Talent Definitions

You will need to successfully complete a background security investigation before you can be appointed into this position.

All online applicants must provide a valid email address. If your email address is inaccurate or your mailbox is full or blocked, you may not receive important communication that could affect your consideration for this position.

This position is excluded from the bargaining unit.

Please preview "Evaluations" section and "Qualifications" for additional requirements and Quality Ranking Factors.


Candidates must have a Ph.D. in Engineering, Life Sciences, Mathematics or Physical Science and/or another relevant discipline, plus after award of the Ph.D., four or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position.

This position is outside the competitive civil service.

You must meet eligibility and qualification requirements by the closing date of the announcement.


Additional information

Relocation expenses will NOT be paid.

This announcement is open to (All US Citizens OR current NSF employees) who meet citizenship and eligibility requirements.

Federal Appropriations Law requires that Non-Citizens 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.

This announcement may be used to fill like positions in other organizations within the National Science Foundation.

NSF has determined that all of its positions are eligible for telework. Work suitable for telework depends on job duties; therefore, employees must receive approval from their supervisor for telework and have a telework agreement in place. Entering into a telework agreement is voluntary.

The Selected Candidate(s) may be subject to a background investigation.

How You Will Be Evaluated

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

You will be evaluated on the extent and quality of your experience, expertise, education, and research activities relevant to the duties of the position. In some cases, additional assessment processes may also be used.

We strongly encourage you to specifically address the Quality Ranking Factors below. This will ensure that you receive full consideration in the evaluation process.

Quality Ranking Factors
  • Knowledge of the standards and processes of Federal grants in conducting scientific, engineering, and/or education research.
  • Ability to prepare written reports and studies that include conclusions and recommendations for appropriate disposition based on the results of your research, investigation or review.
  • Ability to acquire knowledge of laws, regulations, policies, and procedures sufficient to plan and investigate allegations involving matters of waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement of government resources.
  • Skill in identifying information sources and applying research techniques and search and retrieval systems to collect, examine, and analyze facts.
  • Skill in oral communication techniques sufficient to present the OIG's position and to gain the cooperation of scientists, engineers, and administrators within the agency and the wider research community.
  • Knowledge of current ethical issues in science, engineering and education in order to identify problems and recommend solutions.

  • To preview questions please click here .

    Background checks and security clearance

    Security clearance

    Drug test required

    Position sensitivity and risk
    Moderate Risk (MR)

    Trust determination process

    Required Documents

    All applicants must submit a resume in any format, and may also submit a cover letter.

    In order to be considered for federal appointments, Non-Citizens must affirm that they meet the Appropriations Law eligibility criteria 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. Non Citizens who are exempt from the Appropriations Law requirements due to their status as officers or employees of the U.S. government on December 16, 2009 must provide a statement with their application noting their exemption with documentation of proof of status as officers or employees of the U.S. government on that date.

    You are strongly encouraged to submit a current performance appraisal and/or letter(s) of recommendation and a supplemental statement that describes how your background relates to the Quality Ranking Factors (QRFs) listed in the Qualifications and Evaluation Requirements section of this announcement. This information will be used in the evaluation process.

    We also ask that you complete and submit the Applicant Survey . This will help NSF to ensure that our recruiting efforts are attracting a diverse candidate pool; it will be used for statistical purposes only.

    You should upload your letter of recommendation(s) or the individual(s) can email the letter of recommendation(s) to ; please ask him/her to put your name and the job announcement number in the subject line.

    Transcripts are not required; however, please indicate the year that each degree was obtained on your application materials.

    All uploading must be completed before 11:59 PM Eastern time on the vacancy closing date.

    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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