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Physical Scientist (Entry Level)


This position is located in GAO's Science, Technology Assessment, & Analytics (STAA), Technology Assessment group. STAA is devoted to enhancing & expanding its support to Congress in conducting technology assessments; oversight of federal science & technology programs; & development of innovative analytical techniques in carrying out audits & evaluations. The Technology Assessment group provides independent, nonpartisan analysis of complex science & technology issues to Congress. Visit: STAA


This is an entry-level position. You will participate in a Professional Development Program that includes a combination of on-the-job and classroom training, and exposure to diverse projects within your assigned team. The STAA, Technology Assessment group is seeking an experienced professional to serve as a Physical Scientist to perform the following:

  • Support the execution of science and technology engagements including performance audits, technology assessments, and Comptroller General forums and roundtables;
  • Provide technical advice and support on engagements related to physical sciences, particularly atmospheric science; and potentially chemistry, geology, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, physics, space sciences, meteorology, and oceanography, in accordance with GAO standards;
  • Contribute to the development of the engagement's approach, including participating in the preparation of the design matrix and project plan; conducting background research on scientific subject matter; preparing and organizing engagement-related documentation; data gathering and analysis from a variety of sources, including developing interview questions and taking thorough interview notes; and evaluating engagement-related documentation to make logical inferences and draw accurate conclusions;
  • Conduct interviews to gather appropriate information, and communicate relevant information to agency officials, team members, internal stakeholders, and congressional staff, during formal and informal presentations and meetings;
  • Conduct analysis of the engagement research data, responses received from interviewees, and other evidence that has been collected from various sources;
  • Prepare written summaries of interviews and analyses, and produce reports and other written products that effectively communicate information and findings;
  • Collaborate with others to address issues or solve problems and follow up with others to ensure needs are met; and solicit, listen to, and consider diverse perspectives, approaches, or viewpoints, and incorporate others' perspectives into decision-making;
  • Support the data analysis and evaluation phase of the engagement related to physical science topics. This includes data analysis and message development by synthesizing technical information and drawing preliminary conclusions, and periodically presenting findings to engagement team members, management, and stakeholders;
  • Perform indexing and referencing of products and assist with the coordination of agency comments and the preparation of final products; and
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

RequirementsConditions of Employment


  • Must be a U.S. Citizen.
  • Must be registered for Selective Service, if applicable. (
  • Completion of a financial disclosure statement is required.
  • Completion of a probationary period is required.
  • Must meet/maintain background and suitability requirements for employment. You may be required to obtain and maintain a security clearance depending on the engagements, projects, and initiatives you are assigned to.




In addition to the education requirement, you must have 1 year (52 weeks) of specialized experience at the next lower band or level equivalent to the GS-5 in the Federal Service, or comparable private/public sector experience which has equipped you with the skills and knowledge required to successfully perform the duties of the position. Specialized experience for this position is defined as experience:

Analyzing qualitative and quantitative data to reach conclusions.

Presenting results in writing through research papers, dissertations, and other means.

Presenting results orally in presentations or defense of dissertations to supervisors, peers, or clients.

Conducting laboratory or literature research on physical science, including atmospheric science topics.


Assessing the policy implications of science and technology issues in physical science topic areas, including foresight dimensions. Foresight refers to trying to anticipate and prepare for the potential future effects of scientific or technological changes, including unintended consequences.

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; religious; 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.

You must meet all the requirements before the closing date of the announcement.



This position has a positive education requirement. To qualify you must meet the requirements described below. Documentation to verify your education MUST be submitted with your application in order to be considered.

General Physical Science Series, 1301


Basic Requirements:

  1. Degree: physical science, engineering, or mathematics that included 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science such as mechanics, dynamics, properties of materials, and electronics.


  1. Combination of education and experience -- education equivalent to one of the majors shown in A above that included at least 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science, plus appropriate experience or additional education.


Additional information


This is a bargaining unit position.

Based on the staffing needs, additional selections may be made through this vacancy announcement.

Travel and relocation expenses will not be paid for by the GAO.GAO participates in the Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification Program (E-Verify). E-Verify helps employers determine employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security numbers. If selected, you will be required to complete the Form I-9 at the time of appointment. Click here for more information about E-Verify and to obtain a copy of the Form I-9.

You will be required to complete questions contained on the Declaration for Federal Employment (OF-306) at the time a tentative job offer is made. At the time of appointment, you will be required to update the OF-306.

You will be subject to a determination of suitability for Federal employment.

GAO provides reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees with disabilities. To request accommodation, please email

GAO's policy is to provide equal employment opportunity for all regardless of race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

GAO is part of the Legislative Branch of the Federal government. As such, all positions are in the excepted service. Initial appointments, permanent or indefinite, to the GAO require completion of a probationary period.

How You Will Be Evaluated

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


The position(s) advertised in this announcement are covered by a direct hire authority. Traditional rating and ranking of applicants, including category rating, does not apply to this vacancy. Your qualifications will be initially evaluated against the basic qualifications only. Qualified applicants will be referred for consideration in accordance with Direct Hire guidelines. Veterans' Preference does not apply to positions covered by the direct hire authority.

Please make sure that your responses to the assessment questions are supported in your resume and follow all instructions carefully. If you provide incomplete answers, fail to provide a narrative response to any assessment question(s) that requires further explanation, or if your response to an assessment question is "see resume" or like answer, you may be determined ineligible.

All applicants will be evaluated based on their responses to the assessment questions, in conjunction with the following Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA's):

  • Knowledge of and skill in applying a wide range of concepts, principles, practices, and methodology of physical sciences sufficient to recommend and justify appropriate strategies to prepare and present scientific and technical reports.
  • Ability to analyze and evaluate physical science-related qualitative and quantitative data collected from various sources to make logical inferences and/or draw accurate conclusions regarding the effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity of technical government programs and/or operations. Leverage knowledge in one or more physical science disciplines, specifically atmospheric science.
  • Skill in selecting, organizing, and presenting appropriate information in a concise and balanced manner and communicating such information to a variety of audiences.
  • Ability to effectively communicate technical and complex information orally and in writing to prepare work papers and reports; participate in interviews and meetings; and make presentations that are complete, organized, and tailored to the needs of the audience.
  • Ability to conduct research and develop reliable evidence to support report findings and recommendations.
  • Ability to collaborate and work effectively in a team setting, respecting diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, to achieve timely completion of a project.

To preview the assessment questionnaire, click

Required Documents

To apply for this position, you must submit a complete application package which includes:

  1. RESUME: You are encouraged to use the USAJOBS resume builder to create your resume. In describing your experience, please be clear and specific. In addition to describing duties performed, you must provide the exact dates of each period of employment (from MM/YY to MM/YY) and the number of hours worked per week. We will not make assumptions regarding your experience. Failure to provide this information may result in disqualification. CV's are not recommended.
  2. SF-50: Current and former federal employees eligible for reinstatement should submit a copy of your most recent Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50) that indicates your position information (i.e. title, series, grade). Do not submit awards.
  3. TRANSCRIPTS: If you are using your education to qualify (even partially), you must submit a copy of your transcripts. Foreign Education: If you are submitting a transcript from a non-US educational institution, applicants must submit all necessary documents to a private U.S. organization that specializes in interpretation of foreign educational credentials, commonly called a credential evaluation service. For additional information, please visit: Foreign Education

If you fail to submit any of the documentation listed above your application will be considered incomplete, and will result in loss of consideration.

How to Apply

To apply for this position, you must complete the online application and submit the documentation specified in the Required Documents section below. A complete application package must be submitted by 11:59 PM (EST) on the closing date of the announcement to receive consideration.

  • To begin, click Apply to access the online application. You will need to be logged into your USAJOBS account to apply. If you do not have a USAJOBS account, you will need to create one before beginning the application.
  • Follow the prompts to select your résumé (you are encouraged to create a resume using the USAJOBS resume builder)and/or other supporting documentsto be included with your application package. You will have the opportunity to upload additional documents to include in your application before it is submitted. Your uploaded documents may take several hours to clear the virus scan process.
  • After acknowledging you have reviewed your application package, complete the Include Personal Information section as you deem appropriate and click to continue with the application process.
  • You will be taken to the online application which you must complete in order to apply for the position. Complete the online application, verify the required documentation is included with your application package, and submit the application.
  • To verify the status of your application, log into your USAJOBS account (, all of your applications will appear on the Welcome screen. The Application Status will appear along with the date your application was last updated. For information on what each Application Status means, visit:

Next steps

After the closing date of this announcement, GAO's Human Capital Office will conduct an evaluation of your qualifications by reviewing your assessment questionnaire and resume to complete an analysis. Please be as complete and thorough as possible. If your application is rated "best-qualified," your name will be referred to the selecting official for consideration. At this point you may be contacted for an interview. This process may take up to 30 days.

If you do not meet the key requirements, and/or basic qualifications or you fail to submit all required application materials, your application will not be considered.