Position Overview

Center Directors provide leadership, oversight, and implementation of USGS science programs, ranging from geologic hazards, hydrology, energy and minerals, and ecosystems, to name a few. A Center Director’s role contributes to the science mission of USGS and is influential in determining the strategic direction of the science in their Center. Many Center Directors have experience in scientific research and publications and enjoy the opportunity to advance a broad science portfolio.

Center Directors are responsible for managing center complex operations, promoting and leading a safe and inclusive workforce, and upholding scientific integrity of all data and publications produced by the Center.  They must work effectively across other USGS offices and serve as a key member of senior leadership of the USGS. Center Directors partner with internal and external stakeholders to meet stakeholder needs, while meeting USGS mission requirements.

According to one Center Director, “This is the best job in the USGS. You are at an inflection point where your intuition, your knowledge, your capability [as an individual], and your experience can really help other people in the public, in their careers, and, advance the state of the science. It’s exciting.”

This position is represented at the following bureaus

U.S. Geological Survey

Candidate Description

The ideal Center Director has substantive scientific knowledge such that they can effectively interact with scientists and partners, provide relevant science to the community it serves, and advocate for the Center’s needs within USGS. Experience generally includes conducting and managing scientific research and articulating science needs and findings to a wide range of audiences including highly skilled research scientists, Federal managers, external stakeholders, and the public.

Equally important in an ideal candidate has the ability to lead and manage people and organizations. A Center Director must engage and motivate individuals and teams of diverse backgrounds and personalities towards mission accomplishment. The candidate must also have business acumen necessary for running a complex organization with a multi-faceted business model.

This position is highly competitive. The candidate should be able to demonstrate experience in the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) executive core qualifications: leading change, leading people, results driven, business acumen, and building coalitions. While many Center Directors have advanced degrees, publications, and membership in professional associations, this is not a requirement. Scientific understanding and ability to lead and manage people is most important.  According to one Center Director the ideal candidate will serve as a “spokesperson, a cheerleader, and a referee.”

Specialty Areas

This position is interdisciplinary and may be filled as a Supervisory Physical Scientist, Supervisory Geophysicist, Supervisory Hydrologist, Supervisory Chemist or Supervisory Geologist.

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Fish Biology
  • Wildlife Biology
  • General Physical Sciences
  • Geophysics
  • Geology
  • Hydrology

Work Environment

Most Center Directors work in an office setting and spend time outside the office meeting with Federal, State, local, and tribal partners with occasionally joining scientists in the laboratory or field.  Center Directors can expect quite a bit of travel for both internal and external meetings.

Career Level Requirements

Responsibilities by Level

  • Supervisory:

    • Providing science vision and leadership to employees and in conversations with stakeholders.
    • Providing management oversight to a large number of scientists from a variety of academic disciplines.
    • Exercising full administrative control, through an administrative and information technology support staff, and oversight of facilities operations and management
    • Ensuring that USGS Fundamental Science Practices and USGS technical policies are followed
    • Participating as a member of the management team, making program-level decisions regarding policy, staffing, funding, and science directions.
    • Coordinating organization’s activities with other DOI agencies, the USGS, other Science Centers, and partners.

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Strengths by Level

Supervisory 15
  • Accountability
    Holds self and others accountable for measurable high-quality, timely, and cost-effective results. Determines objectives, sets priorities, and delegates work. Accepts responsibility for mistakes. Complies with established control systems and rules.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Conflict Management
    Manages and resolves conflicts, grievances, confrontations, or disagreements in a constructive manner to minimize negative personal impact.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Creativity and Innovation
    Develops new insights into situations; questions conventional approaches; encourages new ideas and innovations; designs and implements new or cutting edge programs/processes.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Customer Service
    Works with clients and customers (that is, any individuals who use or receive the services or products that your work unit produces, including the general public, individuals who work in the agency, other agencies, or organizations outside the Government) to assess their needs, provide information or assistance, resolve their problems, or satisfy their expectations; knows about available products and services; is committed to providing quality products and services.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Decisiveness
    Makes well-informed, effective, and timely decisions, even when data are limited or solutions produce unpleasant consequences; perceives the impact and implications of decisions.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Effective Communication
    Expresses information (for example, ideas or facts) to individuals or groups effectively, taking into account the audience and nature of the information (for example, technical, sensitive, controversial); makes clear and convincing oral presentations; listens to others, attends to nonverbal cues, and responds appropriately. Writes in a clear, concise, organized, and convincing manner for the intended audience.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Entrepreneurship
    Positions the organization for future success by identifying new opportunities; builds the organization by developing or improving products or services. Takes calculated risks to accomplish organizational objectives.
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    Supervisory 15
  • External Awareness
    Identifies and understands economic, political, and social trends that affect the organization.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Financial Management
    Prepares, justifies, and/or administers the budget for program areas; plans, administers, and monitors expenditures to ensure cost-effective support of programs and policies; assesses financial condition of an organization.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Flexibility
    Is open to change and new information; adapts behavior or work methods in response to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles; effectively deals with ambiguity.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Human Capital Management
    Builds and manages workforce based on organizational goals, budget considerations, and staffing needs. Ensures that employees are appropriately recruited, selected, appraised, and rewarded; takes action to address performance problems. Manages a multi-sector workforce and a variety of work situations.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Influencing/Negotiating
    Persuades others to accept recommendations, cooperate, or change their behavior; works with others towards an agreement; negotiates to find mutually acceptable solutions.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Interpersonal Skills
    Treats others with courtesy, sensitivity, and respect. Considers and responds appropriately to the needs and feelings of different people in different situations.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Leveraging Diversity
    Fosters an inclusive workplace where diversity and individual differences are valued and leveraged to achieve the vision and mission of the organization.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Organizational Awareness
    Knows the organization's mission and functions, and how its social, political, and technological systems work and operates effectively within them; this includes the programs, policies, procedures, rules, and regulations of the organization.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Partnering
    Develops networks and builds alliances; collaborates across boundaries to build strategic relationships and achieve common goals.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Political Savvy
    Identifies the internal and external politics that impact the work of the organization. Perceives organizational and political reality and acts accordingly.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Problem Solving
    Identifies problems; determines accuracy and relevance of information; uses sound judgment to generate and evaluate alternatives, and to make recommendations.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Resilience
    Deals effectively with pressure; remains optimistic and persistent, even under adversity. Recovers quickly from setbacks.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Strategic Thinking
    Formulates effective strategies consistent with the business and competitive strategy of the organization in a global economy. Examines policy issues and strategic planning with a long-term perspective. Determines objectives and sets priorities; anticipates potential threats or opportunities.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Team Building
    Inspires and fosters team commitment, spirit, pride, and trust. Facilitates cooperation and motivates team members to accomplish group goals.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Technology Management
    Keeps up-to-date on technological developments. Makes effective use of technology to achieve results. Ensures access to and security of technology systems.
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    Supervisory 15
  • Vision
    Understands where the organization is headed and how to make a contribution; takes a long-term view and recognizes opportunities to help the organization accomplish its objectives or move toward the vision.
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    Supervisory 15