Senior Business Manager

NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) is the US national center for ground-based night-time astronomy. NOIRLab is a Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC) which operates as a matrix organization, providing services across a range of programs with facilities in three geographic locations: Arizona, Chile and Hawai’i. With a staff of approximately 450 people and an annual budget of one hundred million dollars, NOIRLab has a complex set of partnerships and operating requirements. While the principal sponsor of NOIRLab is the National Science Foundation, the Lab receives funds from the US Department of Energy, NASA, and other US and international institutions in support of a wide range of activities.

NOIRLab is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. AURA provides financial and administrative services through a central administrative office.

NOIRLab is seeking a Senior Business Manager (SBM) to play an integral role on NOIRLab’s leadership team and to lead the budget, finance and administrative functions of NOIRLab. The SBM provides leadership, policy development, risk assessment and strategic planning as part of the senior management team to help accomplish the goals and objectives of NOIRLab. The SBM will report to NOIRLab Director and will support the business needs of the individual Program Directors at NOIRLab.

NOIRLab is in an exciting time of transition.  NOIRLab initially launched in October 2019 to integrate the operations of several existing federally-funded astronomical observatories.  This first step in the transition focused on facilities and IT operations. The next step in the transition will take place in October 2020, and will focus on science and engineering operations.  The SBM will share responsibility with the rest of the leadership team to support the management of these changes.  The SMB will have the opportunity to recommend and lead additional changes in the areas of finance and administration.

Activities and Functions of the Job: 

  • Ensure that NOIRLab’s procedures for budgeting, expenditures, procurements, contracts, proposals and awards, and reporting comply with federal agency requirements, OMB’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), other federal and state laws and regulations, and AURA Policy and Procedures.
  • Lead new changes in the areas of finance and administration, as needed to support NOIRLab as a newly integrated organization. This may include: analyzing NOIRLab’s shared business needs and implementing new approaches to their cost sharing and management, developing and implementing new procedures for managing procurement requests within the Lab, recommending and implementing evolved approaches to NOIRLab’s financial and administrative functions.
  • Oversee the preparation and successful submission of a wide range of reports and proposals, including: annual budget submissions to the NSF and other sponsors, quarterly and annual budget reports, and grant proposals, from individual PI grants to $100M+ Lab-wide proposals.
  • Ensure that appropriate financial analysis and resource planning support is provided for all of NOIRLab’s units.
  • Act as primary interface with AURA Corporate’s Central Administrative Services (CAS) and Human Resources on behalf of the NOIRLab Director. Will collaborate closely with AURA’s Chief Financial Officer and the CAS team.
  • Build understanding of, and consensus around, NOIRLab’s finance and administrative functions with staff, managers, and Directors across the Lab.
  • The position is based in Tucson, Arizona. Periodic travel to Chile, Hawai’i, Washington DC and other destinations will be required.


  • Bachelor's Degree in business, accounting or closely related field or comparable education and experience.
  • Demonstrated expertise in financial management and accounting principles needed to manage operating budgets and develop reports. Advanced knowledge of Federal rules and regulations, processes, and procedures for budget, accounting and fund management, and personnel management.
  • Experience managing a broad scope of complex personnel and related functions including hiring, employee relations, evaluations, terminations and affirmative action. Skill to anticipate future effect of proposed or actual actions and implement changes as required. Commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • Knowledge of FFRDC/Nonprofit organizational structures, policies, procedures, processes and systems. Ability to advise senior management on organizational matters. Proven ability to translate and integrate theories and practices of management, training and development, organization development, and career and job development into effective operations
  • Advanced knowledge of a variety of administrative operational activities such as risk management, accounting and payroll, and contracts and grants administration.
  • Advanced skills in strategic planning, analysis, problem-solving and client service. Ability to think strategically and creatively, to anticipate business and financial trends, and to apply this to business office needs. Budgetary management skills with ability to analyze financial operating data to determine costs, remain within budget and ensure cost-effectiveness. Ability to analyze long-range needs of the organization and to develop and implement plans for accomplishing goals.
  • Innovation and initiative to anticipate, develop and implement new procedures, practices and processes adaptable to constantly changing work patterns and business methods to solve unusual and new challenges.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with individuals at various levels of the organization to incorporate their ideas and to encourage them to take action and or make decisions which are appropriate. Skill in working as part of a team and leading a team of professional staff.
  • Demonstrated leadership in addressing diverse problems, understanding the importance of structure, organization, and resource management. Ability to communicate ideas, thoughts, and meaning clearly.
  • Demonstrated ability or experience in applying high ethical standards to own business practices and decision making and applying same standards to the actions of others.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead teams of diverse backgrounds and cultures, and to foster diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

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.

The work is mostly carried out in an office environment. Long periods of sitting may be required. Given the international nature of NOIRLab, you will need to travel to the various observatory sites (Arizona, Chile and Hawai`i), and occasional work at high elevation summit sites may be required (summit elevations range from 6,800 feet to 14,000 feet).

AURA offers competitive salaries based on market rates and a generous package of benefits.

We are committed to diversity and inclusion at NOIRLab.  Our managing organization, AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at

All applicants must submit a CV and a cover letter that describes their interest in this position and relevant experience.  Please provide contact information of 3 professional references (with one being related to your current position) in your application, references will be contacted later in the recruiting process. 

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

For full consideration, please submit your application by September 4, 2020.  This position will remain open until filled.

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

*NOIRLab has all staff working virtually during the COVID-19 crisis. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape. Offers of employment can be extended and new hires will on-board virtually once they are resident in the Tucson area. We will then ship resources to enable working virtually until it is safe to report to our Tucson offices. Relocation benefits will be available to those eligible when travel can be supported.   

Additionally, all employment is contingent on establishing eligibility to work in the United States, including obtaining an appropriate visa, if necessary.  Work outside of the United States is not permitted.

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and three international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA. 

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.