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DATA COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

(GS-334 or GS-391)


Essential Competencies

Data Communications Specialist

A person with specialized technical knowledge and skills in the field of data communications. Duties include advising on, installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting various hardware, software, and infrastructure needed for computer users to send and receive data and documents electronically to and from other parks, offices, agencies, and organizations. Depending on the emphasis and range of duties, positions may be classified in the Computer Specialist Series (GS-334) or Telecommunications Specialist Series (GS-391).

Depending on the size and organization of the information management staff, data communications may be the only responsibility or just one of several responsibilities one individual performs. (Refer to files for Application Developer, Local Area Network Manager, or Technical Support Specialist for the competencies required to perform additional duties.)

ENTRY LEVEL

These competencies identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform basic data communications tasks at a park, system support office, field director’s office, national program center, or Headquarters office. Work is usually performed under the direct supervision of an experienced NPS data communications specialist.

Electronic Mail

Description: Assists end-users with minor electronic mail problems.

Outline

I.Electronic Mail

A.User support

1.Instructs end-users on basic program features
2.Assists end-users with simple problems such as locked mail boxes

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Skill in using most features of current NPS standard electronic mail package (both network and mobile versions)

Ability to assist end-users with common problems encountered in use of current NPS standard electronic mail software (network and remote versions)

Ability to change phone numbers and other settings of mobile versions

Ability to unlock user mailboxes

Data Communications

Description:Assists end-users with connections to computers outside their office via modems and data communications software or via wide area network connections.

Outline

II. Data Communications

A.Modems

1.Installation

B.Data communications software

1.Installation and configuration
2.Assisting end-users with common tasks

C.Remote control software

1.Installation, configuration, and use.

D.Wide Area Network/Internetworking Software

1.Assisting end-users with common tasks

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Basic knowledge of data communications concepts and terminology

Knowledge of modes of transmission including: data flow (e.g., half-duplex, full duplex) and physical connections (parallel, serial)

Knowledge of modem types, com/serial port types, and modem cables

Ability to configure common settings in data communications programs (baud rate, port, ..)

Ability to use Procomm or other NPS Standard communications software

Ability to retrieve information from hardware and software manufacturers’ electronic bulletin boards

Ability to use remote control software (such as PCAnywhere)

Basic knowledge of how wide area networking/ internetworking differs from modem communications

Skill in using current NPS standard software packages for DOINET/Internet access (including Mosaic, Gopher, FTP, and 3270 Emulation components)

Ability to assist end-users with common tasks in using the current NPS standard software packages for data communications and for DOINET/Internet access

Telecommunications Services

Description: Connects data communications hardware to telecommunications services.

Outline

III. Telecommunications Services

A.Analog vs Digital Services

B.Line sharing

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Knowledge of line/service requirements for modems

Knowledge of some hardware options available for line sharing

Troubleshooting

Description:Assists end-users with common problems encountered while using data communications hardware and software.

Outline

IV. Troubleshooting

A.User support

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Ability to use manufacturers’ manuals for hardware and software to troubleshoot simple data communications problems

Analytical skills and skills in deductive reasoning

Knowledge of sources of hardware and software technical support (manufacturers’ help lines and bulletin board services, ...)

Procurement/Contracting

Description:Purchases basic data communications software and accessories.

Outline

V. Procurement/Contracting

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Knowledge of NPS and local policies and procedures related to common purchases

Technical Writing

Description:Prepares simple instructions for end-users to follow while completing common data communications tasks.

Outline

VI. Technical Writing

A.Instructions

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Skill in identifying and using terminology that end-users will understand

Skill in writing instructions that are complete and are logically organized

Training

Description:Conducts informal one-on-one end-user training in data communications skills.

Outline

VII. Training

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Computer Hardware

Description

Outline

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Computer Operating Systems

Description

Outline

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

DEVELOPMENTAL LEVEL

These competencies identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to assist with data communications at a park, system support office, field director’s office, national program center, or Headquarters office. Work may be performed without direct information management supervision, but with support from other NPS data communications staff.

Electronic Mail

Description:Assists a post office administrator with management of an electronic mail post office.

Outline

I. Electronic Mail

A.Software installation -- Mobile/Remote version

B. Directory maintenance

1.Adds and removes names from directory, mailing lists, and bulletin board propagation lists

C. Database maintenance

1. Backs up database
2.Checks for problems
3. Reclaims database

D.User support

1.Assists end-users with more advanced features and common problems.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

All knowledge, skills and abilities shown at the entry level plus:

Ability to install and configure mobile versions of the current NPS standard electronic mail software

Ability to configure the mobile version of the software for use on and off of a network

Ability to add user names to the local post office

Data Communications

Description

Assists end-users with common problems encountered while using data communications software or NPS standard software packages for DOINET access.

Outline

II. Data Communications

A.Modems

1.Setting up initialization strings

B.Computer communications ports

1.Installation and configuration

C.Data Communications Software

1.Troubleshooting
2.Editing simple script files

D.Remote Control Software

1.Troubleshooting

E.Wide Area Network/Internetworking Software

1.IP addressing concepts
2.Installation
3. Troubleshooting of common problems.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

All knowledge, skills and abilities shown at the entry level plus:

Intermediate knowledge of data communications concepts and terminology

Knowledge of standard digital codes (ASCII, EBCDIC)

Ability to select and configure a variety of modem types and brands

Knowledge of common modem parameters and how they affect data communications

Knowledge of AT command set

Ability to setup modem initialization strings

Knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of various types of data communications ports and chipsets (e.g., RS-232, 8250 UART, 16550 UART, ...)

Ability to use data communications software to determine the source of connection problems (local phone system, packet switched network, remote system that is being dialed into)

Ability to troubleshoot common problems with data communications and remote control software

Ability to write and edit simple data communications script files

Familiarity with advanced communications hardware (e.g., routers, multiplexers, concentrators, DSU/CSUs)

Understanding of IP addressing concepts

Ability to install TCP/IP software

Ability to assist end-users with common problems encountered while using the current NPS standard software packages for DOINET access

Telecommunications Services

Description

Identifies whether data communications problems are caused by problems with local telecommunications services.

Outline

III.Telecommunications Services

A.Phone/data line problems

B.Packet Switch system problems

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Basic knowledge of how packet switch system works

Ability to help end-users report line problems or packet switch system problems to the proper service provider

Troubleshooting

Description

Assists end-users with more complex problems encountered while using data communications hardware and software.

Outline

IV. Troubleshooting

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

All knowledge, skills and abilities shown at the entry level plus:

Ability to use diagnostics software to diagnose hardware problems

Knowledge of modem commands and hardware configurations sufficient to troubleshoot problems under the guidance of manufacturer technical support staff or other sources of technical support

Procurement/Contracting

Description

Advises end-users, managers, and contracting staff on purchases of common data communications equipment and software.

Outline

V. Procurement/Contracting

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Ability to evaluate reviews of data communications hardware and software and to make recommendations to end-users

Ability to recommend appropriate data communications software and hardware to meet end-user needs

Knowledge of procurement regulations and policies that apply to data communications hardware and software and related equipment

Technical Writing

Description

Prepares simple instructions for end-users to follow while completing a variety of data communications tasks.

Outline

IV. Technical Writing

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

All knowledge, skills and abilities shown at the entry level plus:

Ability to write instructions for end-users to follow in completing common tasks related to data communications hardware and software use

Ability to convey complex or technical subject-matter in terms that a lay person or someone without technical training can understand

Training

Description

Coordinates and/or presents formal training on basic data communications tasks.

Outline

V. Training

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Emerging Technologies

Description

Stays abreast of changes in the field of data communications and is able to understand the impact of emerging technologies on current hardware, software, design, etc.

Outline

VII. Emerging Technologies

A. Research

1.Professional journals
2.Trade shows
3.Manufacturer literature and catalogs

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Computer Hardware

Description

Outline

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Computer Operating Systems

Description

Outline

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Applications Software

Description

N/A

Outline

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Systems Analysis

Description

Participates in information systems planning.

Outline

IX. Systems Analysis

A. Information Collection

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Basic knowledge of systems analysis techniques

Knowledge of the role data communications plays in an overall information system

Ability to conduct interviews with line employees to elicit information about current procedures and concerns

Network/Telecommunications Media

Description

Outline

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

FULL PERFORMANCE LEVEL

These competencies identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to install and manage data communications at a park, system support office, field director’s office, national program center, or Headquarters office. Work is performed without supervision beyond direction in areas of administration, policy, and agency goals.

Electronic Mail

Description

Manages an electronic mail post office including remote users and sub-post offices.

Outline

I. Electronic Mail

A. Software installation and support

1. Network versions (both DOS and Windows)
2. Mobile versions (both DOS and Windows)

B. Post office structure

1. Users
2. Mailing lists
3. Bulletin boards
4. Directory propagation

C. Database maintenance

1. Backs up database
2.Checks for and analyzes problems
3. Reclaims database
4.Repairs damage to database

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

All knowledge, skills and abilities shown at the developmental level plus:

Ability to install and manage an electronic mail post office (on the current NPS standard electronic mail package)

Ability to select appropriate parameters for utilities used to maintain post office database

Ability to determine appropriate propagation parameters for NPS propagation topology

Ability to configure electronic mail routing/call lists

Ability to troubleshoot most problems encountered with use of network or mobile versions of the current NPS standard electronic mail package

Data Communications

Description

Researches, installs, configures, and maintains the hardware and software needed for users to transmit and receive data electronically. Includes the ability to troubleshoot most data communications problems.

Outline

II. Data Communications

A. Modems

1.Evaluation, selection, and troubleshooting

B.Advanced data communications hardware

1.Evaluation, selection, and troubleshooting

C.Data Communications Software

1.Writing script files
2.Troubleshooting complex problems

D. Remote Control Software

1.Writing script files
2.Troubleshooting complex problems

E.Wide Area Networking/Internetworking Hardware

1.Evaluation, selection, and troubleshooting

F.Wide Area Networking/Internetworking Software

1.Evaluation, selection, and troubleshooting

G.NPS/DOI applications

1.Troubleshooting communications problems

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

All knowledge, skills and abilities shown at the developmental level plus:

Knowledge of advanced data communications concepts and terminology

Knowledge of modes of transmission including timing (asynchronous, synchronous), information separators, ...

Knowledge of advanced AT commands

Knowledge of current data communications standards including principles of layering

Knowledge of current data communications protocols (e.g., SDLC, HDLC, TCP/IP, ...)

Ability to configure and troubleshoot advanced communication hardware (e.g., routers, multiplexors, concentrators, DSU/CSUs, ...)

Technical knowledge of a variety of specialized data communications areas including asynchronous and synchronous techniques, packet switching, multiplexing, communications hardware and software, file compression techniques, file transfer protocols, electronic bulletin board services, data encryption techniques, integrated services digital networks (ISDN), and Frame Relay

Ability to diagnose modem problems

Ability to troubleshoot more complex data communications problems

Ability to write complex data communications script files

Knowledge of how NPS/DOI applications work with communications software

Ability to manage hardware and software connections to NPS/DOI wide area network

Ability to configure end-user hardware and software for connection to NPS/DOI wide area network

Ability to maintain IP addressing schemes

Ability to install and support IP applications.

Telecommunications Services

Description

Researches, arranges for, and/or recommends telecommunications services needed to support data communications.

Outline

III. Telecommunications Services

A.Researches available/best service for park or office location and work to be performed

1. packet switch service
2. integrated digital service
3. frame relay
4. T1
5. ISDN

B.Advises management on service options and costs

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Knowledge of current telecommunications services suitable for data transmission

Knowledge of how the type of service affects the performance of various data communications hardware and software

Ability to research costs and benefits of various services and recommend options to management

Troubleshooting

Description

Analyzes and tests equipment, software, and services to determine the source(s)/cause(s) of problems which interrupt data communications services. Performs or arranges for any needed repairs.

Outline

IV. Troubleshooting

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

All knowledge, skills and abilities shown at the developmental level plus:

Knowledge of data communications hardware and software and characteristics of telecommunications services sufficient to troubleshoot a wide variety of data communications problems

Procurement/Contracting

Description

Advises managers and contracting staff on purchases of a wide variety of data communications equipment and services.

Outline

V. Procurement/Contracting

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Ability to write detailed specifications for data communications hardware and software

Knowledge of Federal, Departmental, agency, and local contracting and information resources management regulations, policies, and practices related to the procurement of data communications related goods and services

Ability to serve as a Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative

Technical Writing

Description

Outline

VI. Technical Writing

A.Instructions for complex tasks

B.Handouts to support training

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

All knowledge, skills and abilities shown at the developmental level plus:

Ability to write instructions for end-users to follow in completing complicated tasks related to data communications hardware and software use

Ability to prepare written materials to support formal or informal training in use of data communications hardware and software

Training

Description

Develops and presents formal end-user training on a variety of data communications topics. Conducts informal one-on-one training for other computer or telecommunications specialists.

Outline

VII. Training

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Emerging Technologies

Description

Researches, evaluates, advises on, and implements new data communications hardware and software.

Outline

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Skill in soliciting and evaluating review copies of data communications hardware and software

Skill in learning how to use and implement new technologies

Computer Hardware

Description

Outline

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Computer Operating Systems

Description

Outline

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Knowledge of how data communications hardware and software relate to the operating system

Applications Software

Description

Outline

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Systems Analysis

Description

Participates in information systems planning.

Outline

VI.Systems Analysis

A. Information Collection

B. Analysis

C. Recommendations

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

All knowledge, skills and abilities shown at the developmental level plus:

Knowledge of National Park Service organizational structure, long-range goals and objectives, and subject-matter fields

Skill at planning and conducting interviews with line employees and managers to elicit information about current procedures and concerns

Ability to analyze information gathered from users, managers, personal observation, and available documentation to determine present and future data communications needs

Ability to prepare cost/benefit analyses and develop alternatives for data communications implementation and growth

Network/Telecommunications Media

Description

Outline

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

National Park Service
Training and Development Division
Essential Competencies
c-datacm.htm

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