Program Specialist

Washington, D.C
Sep 16, 2021
Sep 24, 2021
Program Manager
Full Time


This position is in the National Cemetery Administration's Memorial Products Service (MPS).

This announcement is a solicitation for applications from current MPS employees and other eligible applicants. Please note that as provided for in the AFGE/VA Master Agreement the FIRST area of consideration for this position will be permanent employees of the MPS, the SECOND area of consideration other eligible applicants.
Learn more about this agency


The MPS AA Unit serves as the principal point-of contact for beneficiaries and families of Veterans who are seeking information on headstones, burial markers, and medallions, or who need assistance with the application process, have questions regarding eligibility, need to check the status of an existing order, request replacement markers, and coordinates with the Program Support Unit (PSU) to report issues with a marker such as delivery, error(s), or damage. In addition, the AA Unit responds to eligibility and application questions for other memorialization benefits such as the Presidential Memorial Certificate Program (PMC), how to report the death of a Veteran through NCA's First Notice of Death (FNOD) Office and how to file an appeal if a benefit has been denied.

The AA Unit assists callers by responding to a wide range of inquiries and requests, and authoritatively resolves issues within established parameters during telephone contact.

The AA Unit receives more than 70,000 calls annually from beneficiaries, families of Veterans, Veterans' Service Officers, and other interested third parties. The Program Specialist provides customer support to callers on a wide array of memorialization questions, both simple and complex through NCA's publicized toll-free telephone number for the VA's Headstones and Marker program.

The Program Specialist assists callers with completing the application for a Government-furnished headstone or marker or provides the caller with the current status of a previously submitted application. The incumbent is empowered to authorize the replacement of Government-furnished headstones and markers without a higher level of review.

The Program Specialist exercises a high degree of tact, diplomacy and sound judgment when resolving caller issues. The incumbent utilizes the Automated Monument Application System (AMAS) and other VA automated systems to determine the status of headstone and marker applications and to initiate replacement/corrective action necessary for case resolution.

The Program Specialist coordinates resolution actions with other VA offices on complex cases as needed. Tracks and initiates follow-up action on difficult cases to ensure timely resolution. Meets regularly with the unit supervisor to discuss quality and/or call volume issues. Complies, maintains, and reports on the number and types of inquiries received, disposition, etc. in order to satisfy MPS needs. Receives and responds to telephone inquiries concerning the PMC Program. Receives and responds to written inquiries concerning the status of headstones and markers.

Work schedule: Required to work Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. .
Compressed/Flexible Schedule: May be available.
Telework: May be available.
Remote/Virtual: This is not a virtual or remote position.

Position Description Title/PD#: Program Specialist/141340
The full performance level of this position is GS-09.

Relocation Expenses: Not authorized.
Financial Disclosure Report: Not required.

Travel Required

Occasional travel - You may be expected to travel for this position.

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential


Conditions of Employment

  • Subject to a background/security investigation.
  • Designated and/or random drug testing may be required.
  • Selective Service Registration is required for males born after 12/31/1959.
  • You may be required to serve a probationary period.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen to apply for this job.


To qualify for this position, applicants must meet all specialized experience and time in grade requirements within 45 days of the closing date of this announcement, 09/24/2021.

Time-In-Grade Requirement: Applicants who are current Federal employees and have held a GS grade any time in the past 52 weeks must also meet time-in-grade requirements within 45 days of the closing date of this announcement. For a GS-09 position you must have served 52 weeks at the GS-07. The grade may have been in any occupation, but must have been held in the Federal service. An SF-50 that shows your time-in-grade eligibility must be submitted with your application materials. If your most recent non-award SF-50 has an effective date within the past year, it may not clearly demonstrate you possess one year time-in-grade, as required by the announcement. In this instance, you must provide an additional non-award SF-50 that clearly demonstrates one year time-in-grade.

You may qualify based on your education and/or experience, as described below:
  • Specialized Experience: You must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the next lower grade GS-07 in the normal line of progression for the occupation in the organization. Examples of specialized experience would typically include, but are not limited to: Knowledge of Federal laws, eligibility criteria and agency procedures pertaining to the VA's Headstone and Marker program. Knowledge of other MPS programs to include Program Support Unit, PMC, FNOD, and Appeals. Knowledge of eligibility requirements for the VA Headstone and Marker program and the PMC program is required. Ability to exercise a high degree of tact, diplomacy, and compassion and use appropriate words and tone of voice when communicating with callers on highly sensitive issues. Knowledge of electronic data processing systems and skilled in written and oral communications.
  • Education: Applicants may substitute education for the required experience. To qualify based on education for this grade level you must have a master's or equivalent graduate degree or two full years of progressively higher level graduate level education leading to such a degree or LL.B. or J.D., which demonstrates the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to do the work of this position.
  • Combination: Applicants may also combine education and experience to qualify at this level. You must have an combination of specialized experience and education beyond the first 18 semester hours of graduate-level education earned.
You will be rated on the following Competencies for this position:

  • Communication
  • Customer Service
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Problem Solving

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religions; spiritual; community; student; social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

Note: A full year of work is considered to be 35-40 hours of work per week. Part-time experience will be credited on the basis of time actually spent in appropriate activities. Applicants wishing to receive credit for such experience must indicate clearly the nature of their duties and responsibilities in each position and the number of hours a week spent in such employment.

Physical Requirements: The work is mostly sedentary and requires extensive time on the telephone. The Program Specialist will be required to talk for long periods of time, which occasionally puts a strain on the throat/vocal cords. There are no other special physical demands required to perform the work. There may be some walking, standing, and carrying of light items such as papers, books, or files from one desk to another. Extensive use of a computer and a telephone with a headset is required.

Selected applicants will be required to complete an online onboarding process.


A transcript must be submitted with your application if you are basing all or part of your qualifications on education.

PLEASE NOTE: 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 (particularly positions with a positive education requirement). Therefore, applicants must report only attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Applicants can verify accreditation at the following website: . All education claimed by applicants will be verified by the appointing agency accordingly. If you are using foreign education to meet qualification requirements, you must send a Certificate of Foreign Equivalency with your transcript in order to receive credit for that education.

Additional information

VA supports the use of telework as a way to help attract and retain talented individuals in public service, increase worker productivity, and better prepare the agency to operate during emergencies. This position may be authorized for telework. Telework eligibility will be discussed during the interview process.

The Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP) provide eligible displaced VA competitive service employees with selection priority over other candidates for competitive service vacancies. To be qualified you must submit appropriate documentation (a copy of the agency notice, your most recent performance rating, and your most recent SF-50 noting current position, grade level, and duty location) and be found well-qualified (have a final rating of 85 or more) for this vacancy. Information about CTAP eligibility is on OPM's Career Transition Resources website at .

Placement Policy: The posting of this announcement does not obligate management to fill a vacancy or vacancies by promotion. The position may be filled by reassignment, change to lower grade, transfer, appointment, or reinstatement. Management may use any one or any combination of these methods to fill the position.

It is the policy of the VA to not deny employment to those that have faced financial hardships or periods of unemployment.

This job opportunity announcement may be used to fill additional vacancies.

Special Employment Consideration: VA encourages persons with disabilities to apply, including those eligible for hiring under 5 CFR 213.3102(u), Schedule A, Appointment of persons with disabilities [i.e., intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities, or psychiatric disabilities], and/or Disabled veterans with a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more.

Veterans and Transitioning Service Members: Please visit the VA for Vets site for career-search tools for Veterans seeking employment at VA, career development services for our existing Veterans, and coaching and reintegration support for military service members.

For more information on the "Who may apply" eligibility requirements, please refer to the OHRM Status Candidates and Other Candidate Definitions document.

If you are unable to apply online or need to fax a document you do not have in electronic form, view the following link for information regarding an Alternate Application .

How You Will Be Evaluated

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

IN DESCRIBING YOUR EXPERIENCE, PLEASE BE CLEAR AND SPECIFIC. WE WILL NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS REGARDING YOUR EXPERIENCE. If your resume does not support your questionnaire answers, we will not allow credit for your response(s).

Narrative responses are not required at this time. If you are referred for consideration, you may be asked to submit additional job related information, which may include, but not limited to; responses to the knowledge, skills and abilities; completion of a work sample, and/or contact for an interview. Your resume and/or supporting documentation will be verified. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect your rating or consideration for employment.

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance
Not Required

Drug test required

Position sensitivity and risk
Noncritical-Sensitive (NCS)/Moderate Risk

Trust determination process

Required Documents

To apply for this position, you must provide a complete Application Package which includes:

  • Resume

The following documents are accepted, and may be required if applicable to your eligibility and/or qualifications for this position. Please use this checklist to make sure you have included other documents required for your application, such as a copy of your transcript (if using education to qualify), documentation to support Veterans Preference claims, or CTAP documentation (for displaced Federal employees). You will not be contacted for additional information.

  • Cover Letter
  • DD-214/ Statement of Service
  • Disability Letter (Schedule A)
  • Disability Letter (VA)
  • Other (1)
  • Performance Appraisal
  • Resume
  • Separation Notice (RIF)
  • SF-15
  • SF-50/ Notification of Personnel Action
  • Transcript

Veterans' Preference: When applying for Federal Jobs, eligible Veterans should claim preference for 5pt (TP), 10pt (CP/CPS/XP), or for Sole Survivor Preference (SSP) in the questionnaire. You must provide a legible copy of your DD214(s) which shows dates and character of service (honorable, general, etc.). If you are currently serving on active duty and expect to be released or discharged within 120 days you must submit documentation related to your active duty service which reflects the dates of service, character of service (honorable, general, etc.), and dates of impending separation. Additionally, disabled Veterans and others eligible for 10-point preference (such as widows or mothers of eligible Veterans) must also submit an SF-15 "Application for 10 Point Veteran Preference" with required proof as stated on the form. Documentation is required to award preference. For more information on Veterans' Preference, please visit .

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