U.S. Department Of Agriculture: Assistant General Counsel, Marketing, Regulatory & Food Safety Division (Washington, DC)

Job Title: Assistant General Counsel, Marketing, Regulatory & Food Safety Division

Department: Department Of Agriculture

Agency:Office of the General Counsel

Job Announcement Number:DA-OGC-2012-0012


$119,554.00 to $179,700.00 / Per Year


Thursday, May 24, 2012 to Sunday, June 24, 2012




Full-time – Permanent




1 vacancy(s) – Washington, DC, USView Map


Applications will be accepted from all groups of qualified individuals.


The Senior Executive Service (SES) is comprised of the men and women charged with leading the continuing transformation of government. These leaders possess well-honed executive skills and share a broad perspective of government and a public service commitment which is grounded in the Constitution. This position is SES, General. Positions in the SES are not graded. SES employees are also eligible for bonuses and awards based on performance. Veteran’s preference is not applicable to the SES. Selectee is subject to a one-year probationary period, unless currently serving under an SES appointment. Visit http://www.opm.gov/ses/ for additional information regarding SES employees.

If you would like to work for a premier agency that is focused on enhancing the quality of life for the American people by supporting production of agriculture: ensuring a safe, affordable, nutritious, and accessible food supply; caring for agricultural, forest, and range lands; supporting sound development of rural communities; providing economic opportunities for farm and rural residents; expanding global markets for agricultural and forest products and services; and working to reduce hunger in America and throughout the world, USDA is the place for you.

This position is located in the Office of the General Counsel (OGC). OGC is an independent legal agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). OGC provides legal advice and services to the Secretary of Agriculture and to all other officials and agencies of the Department with respect to all USDA programs and activities.

The Assistant General Counsel position is in the Marketing, Regulatory and Food Safety Programs Division which is responsible for providing legal support to the programs administered by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), and the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).  The Assistant General Counsel is responsible for assisting in the management and supervision of the Marketing, Regulatory and Food Safety Programs Division which provides a full range of legal services to these agencies, including the drafting and review of legislation, regulations, and other documents, prosecuting and defending Federal court and administrative litigation, and providing formal and informal legal advice to Under Secretaries and Agency Administrators. The Assistant General Counsel supervises and manages the Division’s legal work for APHIS programs including legal counsel and litigation support in connection with the enforcement of the animal and plant health laws and regulations, the select agent regulatory program, the biotechnology regulatory services program, and the wildlife services program.  These regulatory programs include the agricultural quarantine inspection program, pest and disease control and eradication programs, import and export programs, biotechnology, and the control of wildlife damage.  The incumbent also supervises and manages the division’s legal work for FSIS, AMS and GIPSA.  FSIS administers the Department’s food safety regulatory programs under the meat, poultry, and egg products inspection laws. The division supports several AMS programs that include the meat, poultry, and shell egg grading programs under the Agricultural Marketing Act, and the pesticide data and pesticide record keeping programs.  The division also supports the financial protection and fair trade practice regulatory program of the Packers and Stockyards Act administered by GIPSA.

To learn more about our agency, our exciting mission, vision, and guiding principles, please visit http://www.usda.gov



  • Background and/or Security Investigation required
  • You must be a U.S. Citizen to qualify for this position


Provides legal advice and overall legal support to the Under Secretaries, agency administrators, and other senior officials who are responsible for the programs and activities of the Department described above. Provides legal advice and guidance, upon the direction of the General Counsel, to the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, and to officials of other government agencies with respect to all legal issues, procedures, and practices arising from the development and formulations of the Department’s policies, operations in the above described areas, with due regard for the protection of the government’s interests, and the effective integration of these activities with other programs of the Department.

In connection with  programs and activities of these agencies, the incumbent manages the development and  application of legal policies,  and supervises a staff of attorneys who draft, review, and approve  regulations; draft, review, and approve for legal sufficiency  and review, and approve  legislation; draft and review cooperative agreements, memoranda of understanding, and  other  agreements;  prepare  legal  memoranda  on  questions  of  law;  prepare litigation reports, pleadings, statements of fact, declarations, briefs, and other documents in connection with suits filed by or against the United States; work with the Department of Justice in the trial of cases in the Federal courts; and prepare and present cases before Administrative  Law Judges,  the Judicial  Officer, and other hearing officers appointed for particular proceedings.

Participates, as counsel for the Department and the agencies described above, in conferences and meetings with leading representatives of industry, business, and agriculture, and interested and affected members of the public.  Participates, as counsel to senior Department officials, in meetings and conferences with other Federal departments and agencies to include the Office of Counsel to the President, OMB, the Government Accountability Office, and Congressional staffs.  In these situations, the incumbent is required to provide sound and effective legal advice with respect to many novel legal issues and program matters.

Legal issues and questions handled by the incumbent relate to responsibilities, authorities, and limitations established by the United States Constitution, and the statutes and regulations under which the Department’s regulatory, marketing, and food safety programs are developed, administered and implemented; the protection of the Government’s interests; claims by or against the Government; the review and analysis of investigation reports to determine whether there is a basis for criminal, civil, or administrative action, or whether a valid claim exists; and the necessary actions to be taken prior to and during litigation.

The incumbent is required, on a daily basis, to provide sound, expert legal guidance and advice to the senior managers in the Office of the General Counsel, to the Administrators of AMS, APHIS, FSIS, and GIPSA, and, as appropriate and necessary to the Under Secretary for Food Safety, the Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs and to other senior policy officials of the Department.   The incumbent is also responsible, among other duties, for developing and recommending legal policies and procedures for handling the work of the division; overseeing the training and development of the legal and support staff; assigning work and evaluating the performance of the legal and support staff; and performing other management duties that may be assigned. As designated, the incumbent acts for the Associate General Counsel when the Associate General Counsel is absent from the office or is unavailable.

Assists and provides input to the Associate General Counsel in connection with the Associate General Counsel’s duties as an advisor to the General Counsel and Deputy General Counsels on matters affecting the overall management of the Office of the General Counsel and the formulation and implementation of policies, practices, and procedures with respect to Office’s organization, budget priorities, personnel, and related matters.


As a basic requirement for entry into the SES, applicants must provide evidence of progressively responsible leadership experience that is indicative of senior executive level managerial capability and directly related to the skills and abilities outlined under Mandatory Technical Qualifications and Executive Core Qualifications.

Typically, experience of this nature will have been gained at or above the GS-15 grade level in the Federal service, or its equivalent with state or local government, the private sector, or non- governmental organizations. Your resume needs to emphasize your level of responsibilities, the scope and complexity of programs managed, and your program accomplishments, including the results of your actions.

Failure to meet the basic qualification requirement and all Mandatory Technical and Executive Core Qualification factors automatically disqualifies an applicant.

Applicants must have a professional law degree (LL.B. or J.D.) and be an active member of the bar of any state, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.


A. EXECUTIVE CORE QUALIFICATIONS (ECQ): All applicants must submit written statements. Your narrative response must not exceed two (2) pages per ECQ.

The ECQs were designed to assess executive experience and potential not technical expertise. They measure whether an individual has the broad executive skills needed to succeed in a variety of SES positions. All applicants must submit written statements describing accomplishments that would satisfy the ECQs.

You must address each ECQ separately. You are required to respond to all ECQs. If you fail to do so, you will be rated as ‘ineligible.’

Each accomplishment should be clear, concise, and emphasize your level of responsibilities, the scope and complexity of programs managed, and results of your actions.

Additional information on the ECQs is available at http://www.opm.gov/ses/recruitment/ecq.asp.

ECQ 1 LEADING CHANGE: This core qualification involves the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment. (Competencies: Creativity and Innovation, External Awareness, Flexibility. Resilience, Strategic Thinking, Vision)

ECQ 2 LEADING PEOPLE: This core qualification involves the ability to lead people toward meeting the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts. In addition to this ECQ, you must also describe your accomplishments in EEO and/or CIVIL RIGHTS. This includes opportunities provided to minorities and women to receive grants and/or contracts, employment and advancement, training, award recognition, and program benefits. (Competencies: Conflict Management, Leveraging Diversity, Developing Others, Team Building)

ECQ 3 RESULTS DRIVEN: This core qualification involves the ability to meet organizational goals and customer expectations. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks. (Competencies: Accountability, Customer Service, Decisiveness, Entrepreneurship, Problem Solving, Technical Credibility)

ECQ 4 BUSINESS ACUMEN: This core qualification involves the ability to manage human, financial, and information resources strategically. (Competencies: Financial Management, Human Capital Management, Technology Management)

ECQ 5 BUILDING COALITIONS: This core qualification involves the ability to build coalitions internally and with other Federal agencies, State and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals. (Competencies: Partnering, Political Savvy, Influencing/Negotiating)

Fundamental Competencies: These competencies are the foundation for success in each of the Executive Core Qualifications; Interpersonal Skills, Oral Communication, Continual Learning, Written Communication, Integrity/Honesty, Public Service Motivation. The Fundamental Competencies are crosscutting; they should be addressed over the course of your ECQ narrative. It is not necessary for you to address the Fundamental Competencies directly as long as the narrative, in its totality, shows mastery of these competencies on the whole.

The following applicants may omit the mandatory ECQ narrative statements, but must provide proof of status as stated below.

1. Applicants who are currently serving under a SES-Career appointment or who are eligible for reinstatement into the SES. You must provide a recent Standard Form 50 (SF-50) that documents career appointment to the SES.

2. Applicants who are graduates of an OPM-approved SES Candidate Development Program. You must provide proof of OPM Qualification Review Board certification.

B. MANDATORY TECHNICAL QUALIFICATIONS (TQ): All applicants must submit written statements. Your narrative response must not exceed two (2) pages per TQ.

1. Describe your demonstrated experience in providing sound oral and written legal advice and counsel to senior executives and management officials; in analyzing complex legal problems; in making sound legal decisions; and in supervising and managing highly skilled attorneys and support staff.

2. Describe your demonstrated experience with Federal regulatory programs, including administrative law and procedure, and the development and implementation of regulations; and substantial knowledge of and experience in handling and supervising litigation in the Federal courts and before administrative bodies.

To preview questions please click here.


Some of the benefits for which you are entitled to but not limited to are:

Federal Holidays

Annual & Sick Leave

Federal Employee Retirement System

Thrift Savings Plan

Federal Employees Health Benefits

Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance

Flexible Spending Accounts

Federal Long Term Care Insurance

For more information on these and many other benefits, go to: http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/enrollment/new_employees.asp



Consideration for competitive selection for this position is open to all persons within the area of consideration who meet the basic qualifications. Race, color, age, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, religion, marital or family status, disability, and other non-merit factors will not be considered.

1. This position is covered under the post-employment restriction of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-521). This law also requires the selectee to file an Executive Personnel Financial Disclosure Report (Standard Form 278), within 30 days of appointment.

2. Applications sent in U.S. Government postage-paid envelope and submitted through Federal Agency courier services will not be considered.

3. Male applicants born after December 31, 1959, must be registered with the Selective Service System before they can be employed by an executive agency of the Federal government. This requirement does not apply to Agency employees appointed before November 8, 1985.

4. The 1993 Hatch Act Reform Amendments prohibit oral and written political recommendations for Federal jobs.

5. All application forms are subject to the provisions of the Privacy Act and become the property of USDA.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is an Equal Opportunity Employer. USDA prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the bases of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication or program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

Reasonable Accommodation: This agency provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the agency at 202-720-0027. The decision on granting reasonable accommodation will be on a case-by-case basis.



You can apply for this position via on-line submission here: http://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/317602600. Your online application must include the following documents:

1. Resume

2. Responses to the Mandatory Technical Qualifications and Executive Core Qualifications.

3. Supporting Documentation (See required documents for more information)

Candidates who do not submit complete application packages as indicated will not be considered.

Please be sure to remove all PII (e.g. SSN & DOB) from all documents.

Spell out Acronyms the first time used.

Applicants who cannot apply on-line, please mail or fax applications to the Agency Contact listed in the vacancy announcement.

Critical Submission Requirements and Reminders

1. Application and supporting documentation will not be accepted via e-mail.

2. Please be sure to click both (FINISHED) buttons when completing your on-line application.

3. Our online application system is 100% compatible with Internet Explorer (IE) versions 5.0 and above.



A complete application package will require the submission of:

1. Resume, which must include all of the information listed below.

Vacancy announcement number

Full name, mailing and email addresses, day and evening telephone numbers

Country of citizenship

Information about your paid and nonpaid work experience related to this position including; job title, duties and accomplishments , employer’s name and address, supervisor name and phone number, duration of employment, and salary and hrs per week

Educational information, including the name, city and state of colleges or universities attended, major as well as the type of degree received

Information about honors, awards, and special accomplishments

2. Responses to the Executive Core Qualifications

Submit a Supplemental Applicant Statement which addresses EACH of the ECQs separately. Please include your name and the vacancy announcement number on each page of the supplemental applicant statement. The purpose of this statement is to provide you, as an applicant, the opportunity to elaborate on your experience, training, and specifically, significant achievements which relates to the ECQs being used to identify the best qualified candidates for this vacancy. DO NOT simply repeat entries from other parts of your application package.

Please provide complete responses to the executive core qualifications. When addressing the five ECQs the total length of your statement must not exceed 10 pages (no more than 2 pages per ECQ) using 1 inch margins and a 12 point font.

An ECQ statement may include one or two examples of relevant experience. The number of examples is not as important as assuring that your experience matches the ECQ criteria, but please try to limit examples to a maximum of two to ensure a clear and concise narrative that flows.

Please provide your examples using the C-C-A-R Model(Challenge/Context/Action/Results), as described below:

a. Challenge: Describe a specific problem or goal.

b. Context: Describe the individuals and groups you worked with, and/or the environment in which you worked to tackle a particular challenge (e.g., clients, co-workers, members of Congress, shrinking budget, low morale.)

c. Action: Discuss the specific actions you took to address a challenge

d. Results: Give specific examples of the results of your actions. These accomplishments demonstrate the quality and effectiveness of your leadership skills.

Examples of the CCAR model, the method of writing your ECQs, can be found at: http://www.opm.gov/ses/references/GuidetoSESQuals_2010.pdf.

3. Responses to the Mandatory Technical Qualifications

Submit a Supplemental Narrative Statement which addresses EACH of the Mandatory Technical Qualifications individually. Your narrative responses must not exceed two (2) pages using 1 inch margins and a 12 point font per Technical Qualification.

4. Supporting Documentation

If you are a Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program graduate, submit proof of the Office of Personnel Management’s certification and a narrative statement addressing only the mandatory technical qualifications.

If you are a current or former SES member, submit documentation of SES status and a narrative statement addressing only the mandatory technical qualifications. For documentation, you must submit a copy of your Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50) showing your position, title, series, grade, and tenure.

Please be sure to include the announcement number on your application. Also, please omit your social security number from all pages of your application.

5. DO NOT submit any additional information, extraneous materials will not be considered.



Tonique Coley
Phone: 202-720-0027
Fax: 202-720-2774
Email: Tonique.Coley@dm.usda.gov
Agency Information:
Office of the General Counsel
US Dept. of Agriculture DM/ERMD
1400 Independence Ave SW
Room 323W
Washington, DC
Fax: 202-720-2774


Applicants who meet the mandatory requirements in items A (Executive Core Qualifications), and B (Mandatory Technical Qualifications) above will be considered qualified for this position. Rating and ranking to determine the ‘best qualified’ will be conducted by a panel of experts and will be based upon consideration of the degree to which applicants meet the mandatory requirements as described in the announcement. Interviews and qualifications inquiries may be required.

The Executive Core Qualifications of the selectee are subject to prior approval by the Office of Personnel Management Qualifications Review Board (QRB). Unless you have already been certified by an OPM QRB in the past, your ECQs must be certified by an OPM QRB before appointment can occur. When reviewing Executive Core Qualifications Statements, the QRB is looking for experience as well as specific challenges, actions, and results.