Consultant - MSS Principal Program Financial Analyst

Tucson, Arizona, United States

Full Time

a month ago

Job description

NSF’s NOIRLab is the preeminent US national center for ground-based, nighttime optical and infrared astronomy. NOIRLab is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) which operates as a matrix organization, providing services across a range of programs: Gemini, Rubin, MSO (CTIO and KPNO), and CSDC; with facilities in three geographic locations: Arizona, Chile and Hawai’i. The mission of NOIRLab is to enable breakthrough discoveries in astrophysics by developing and operating state-of-the-art ground-based observatories and providing data products and services for a diverse and inclusive community.

We are seeking a Principal Program Financial Analyst Consultant for the Management Support Services (MSS) group to help fill resource gaps within MSS Finance to support COS and US-ELTP and to deliver “surge support” to the Rubin Operations team with the shift from the construction phase to the operations phase. This is a temporary, part time position (approximately 25 hours per week), expected to last five months. The position is located in Tucson, Arizona, and is eligible for a hybrid work schedule.

Essential Functions:

  • Work with the analyst assigned to Center Operations Services (COS) to: 1) create/deliver ad hoc analysis to the COS leadership team and NOIRLab leadership, 2) load ITOps budget/forecast content in the new structure into Costpoint, and 3) help maintain the level of service that was provided to the COS team during FY23
  • Support dedicated COS analyst in monthly financial analysis walkthroughs with budget owners
  • Load ITOps budget/forecast content into Costpoint using the new “FAC02” structure
  • Complete ad hoc analysis of the COS budget for FY24 and beyond.  This task will include the following:
    • Identify drivers of actual/projected increases in expenses and opportunities for cost savings
    • Present the findings of the analysis to COS, MSS, and NOIRLab leadership
  • Work with COS, MSS, and NOIRLab leadership to build a cost-reduction plan
  • Collaborate with the Arizona Facilities Ops (AFOps) manager to build a cost/benefit analysis model in Excel.  This model will initially focus on per-use activities on Kitt Peak.  Later versions of the model might apply to mountain operations in Chile and/or AFOps base operations.  Goals of the initial model:
    • Identify opportunities to reduce costs and/or increase revenue (where relevant)
    • Refine assumptions with live data from FY24 Q1 operations
    • Enhance the visibility of the costs to deliver meals and hotel/dorm services on Kitt Peak within the COS and Mid-Scale Observatory (MSO) teams  
  • Provide dedicated financial support for US-ELTP, until MSS Finance has a dedicated resource in place
    • Deliver reports (bi-weekly and quarterly NSF report) of expenses, encumbrances, and remaining balances for two awards
    • Work through RAS/budget/forecast updates, to include loading the FY24 budget for the new award in the “S” project series
  • Complement the financial support delivered by MSS Finance by:
    • Crafting Excel-based analytical tools for Rubin Ops leadership (to include L2 managers who report to the Rubin Ops director)
    • Refining the analytical tools to fit Rubin Ops team needs
    • Helping Rubin Ops ADs (Associate Directors) strengthen their confidence when working with Costpoint reports and Excel-based derivatives
  • Work through FY24 non-linear forecasts and the FY25 budget with the Rubin Ops Portfolio Manager
  • Track carry-forward spending and available funds for projects that fit within the CS002 and CS022 project series.  For CS022, this will include base and supplemental awards. 
  • Update Excel-based analytical tools to:
    • Integrate FY24 content (labor, budget, and actual expenses)
    • Focus on expense categories that are most important to the Rubin Ops team (typically labor, contracts, and travel)
  • Walk through financial results with the Rubin Ops Portfolio Manager and leadership (including L2 managers) on a monthly basis, using an “onion file” structure
    • Prepare for walk-throughs by analyzing the onion file contents and discussing preliminary findings with the Portfolio Manager
    • Research and respond to questions posed by Rubin Ops team members during the walk-through sessions
    • Discuss FY24 forecast assumptions with the Rubin Ops team, using the latest EAC from Costpoint
  • Update the forecast (EAC) each month with actuals and guidance from the Rubin Ops team
  • Forecast will include budget for FY25 and beyond
  • Expand existing carry-forward tracking tool in Excel to include base- and supplemental-funded projects within the CS022 structure
  • Update CO trackers each month with content from the month-end close and “live” data

 Other Functions:

  • Other duties as assigned

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in a Business Administration, Finance, Accounting; or equivalent relevant experience.
  • Master’s Degree in Business Administration or Financial Analyst professional certification (or similar).
  • 14+ years experience in a Financial Planning & Analysis role.
  • Experience using ERP software i.e. SAP, Deltek Costpoint, Oracle, Sage etc. or similar.
  • Expert-level knowledge of Excel and experience working with complex sets of data.
  • Experience with Finance Business Systems and data query/data management tools (Access, SQL, Business Objects) and business intelligence tools.
  • Outstanding analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Good interpersonal skills and ability to communicate and cooperate with a wide range of staff and managers
  • Passion to learn and grow, and interest to streamline processes


Preferred Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Experience in federally sponsored research or non-profit settings, specifically with government contracting, program pricing or program controls
  • Understanding of OMB Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, 2CFR200 (Uniform Guidance), Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), and/or Cost Accounting Standards (CAS).
  • Experience with Deltek Costpoint and Cognos BI.
  • Some experience with earned value management (EVM) projects
  • Understanding of the development and application of indirect rates
  • Understanding of the concepts, theories, principles, and practices of general and contract accounting, budgeting, forecasting, and financial analysis in a government contract environment.
  • Experience with and willingness to train others on software applications
  • Experience with collaboration tools (e.g. Google Docs, Confluence, Asana, JIRA)
  • Experience of working in a multicultural environment, in an international organization and/or in a high technology industry sector.
  • Some knowledge of Spanish.

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel and talk or hear.
  • The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; reach with hands and arms and stoop; kneel; crouch; or crawl.
  • The employee must regularly lift and /or move up to 10 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.
  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.
  • Must possess - sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both arms and hands and both legs to a) reach upward, sideways, downward to work with paper files; b) sufficient mobility and dexterity to utilize computer systems, fax machines, copiers, and other office machines.
  • Must possess – 1) ability to read and understand instructions, drawings, safety guides, and other written materials necessary to perform job; 2) sufficient visual capacity to perform the applicable functions without assistance of visual aids other than eye contacts or eye glasses; 3) sufficient spoken aural capacity to hear and understand instructions, warning bells, fire alarms, or shouted instructions without assistance of auditory aids other than a hearing aid; and 4) ability to impart information orally so that others understand and can respond appropriately


AURA offers an excellent benefits package including paid time off and retirement plan contributions, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a very attractive work environment. Details on benefits can be found at 

Preference will be given to qualified internal candidates and qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation.

The position will remain open until it is filled. 

  • Please submit a CV or resume, PDF files preferred. Please name any attachments with the following format: Lastname Docname. 
  • Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to [email protected]
  • Please enter 3 professional references in your application (references will only be contacted later in the recruitment process). 

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at [email protected] 

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of 47 US institutions and 3 international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories for the National Science Foundation and NASA. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. In addition, AURA is deeply committed to public and educational outreach, and to diversity throughout the astronomical and scientific workforce. AURA carries out its role through its astronomical facilities. 

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA does not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws. The statements below as well as the requests for self-identification are required pursuant to these regulations. We encourage your participation in meeting these federal reporting requirements which are included for protection and to assist us in our recordkeeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.

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