Management Assistant (Great Smoky Mountains NP)

GS 12

This position serves as Management Assistant to the Superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Foothills Parkway. The incumbent serves as the Park's liaison and primary spokesperson with community leaders, the news media, State and local officials, the Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and special interest groups essential to maintain or establish productive external relationships in both North Carolina and Tennessee. As staff specialist, the incumbent performs a wide range of duties including planning, and conducting studies involving policy, procedures, or methods impacting all divisions and is responsible for providing coordination, review and/or planning as directed on major management initiatives, regional planning, public affairs, other governmental entities and special programs.

A. Duties

Develops and oversees an active, non-routine public and media relations and information/education programs on specific issues that may be sensitive or controversial. Coordinates involvement of appropriate divisions and determines approach and strategy for implementation directed at identified target audiences or critical constituencies. Develops overall public affairs program and coordinates both routine and non-routine activities to foster a positive Park image as determined by the Superintendent. Supervises one GS-9 Park Ranger who is responsible for the more routine public relations programs including press releases, media contacts, filming activities, foreign and VIP visits.

Plan, organizes, and conducts a variety of studies, as directed, of various management problems, operational issues, policy initiatives, budget allocations, and other issues impacting one or more divisions. Determines approach and recommends qualified individuals to assists in studies or serve on task forces. Recommends policies, procedures, and identifies alternatives and/or solutions to management based on analyses of studies, knowledge of Park management and operations, long term operational costs and expected public or political response.

Coordinates the planning process associated with development of the Park's Strategic Plan. Provides liaison between the Park and other Service entities as assigned. Keeps management informed of emerging issues, strategic implications and potential problems, and recommends possible alternatives for resolving these matters as part of this process.

Devises and distributes management information to all employees and appropriate cooperators, ensuring that such information is timely and accurately reflects the position of the Park, the Service, and the Department.

Drafts and updates issue briefing statements, position papers and news releases, coordinating with Region/Service/Department Communications staff for consistency and mutual understanding. Provides advice to management officials on presentation of issues and likely public response. Drafts responses to controlled correspondence, and prepares "boilerplate" responses where indicated. Serves as Park's Freedom of Information Act Officer.

Oversees management of Park's Special Use Permits (SUP)/Right-of-Way (ROW) which includes periodic review and updating of permits, on-site inspection of permit areas, negotiation with permitees of any necessary changes as a result of inspection and updates. Coordinates with other divisions to bring old permits in compliance with current fee schedules and resource management guidelines.

Serve as liaison to Park's "Friends" group, and numerous other conservation, support, and special interest groups. Has delegated authority to make commitments on Park's behalf within reasonable limits. Works with these groups to identify prospective donors and to increase public awareness of the Park's needs for alternative funding. Also serves as conduit to tourism and promotion entities in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Manages all facets of planning and coordination of public meetings, press conferences, special events, and ceremonies, including logistical arrangements, advance publicity, and informational handouts. Manages and directs events and activities in the local community and region involving Park/Regional/Departmental officials and issues.

Has overall responsibility for hosting official visitors including foreign dignitaries and government officials, applying a high degree of tact and diplomacy in all contacts.

Administers permit system for commercial filming in the Park, determining appropriateness, adherence to rules and regulations, special conditions, and bonding requirements. Provides or arranges for on-site monitoring and assistance as necessary to ensure safety, resource protection and compliance with permit conditions.

B. Factors

Knowledge Required by Position

Broad and detailed practical knowledge of current NPS and Park philosophy, goals, objectives, management policies, procedures, administrative processes and regulations is essential for incumbent to make and effectively convey park decisions and positions and to allow him/her to respond independently to unexpected situations.

Extensive knowledge of the Park's natural and cultural resources is needed to convey the significance on importance of these resources and to guide the incumbent in decision-making.

Detailed knowledge of the political and economic concerns and sensitivities of various surrounding communities and organizations is needed for incumbent to know where to seek support, expect opposition, and avoid pitfalls.

Knowledge of public relations skills including tact, diplomacy, good written and personal communication skills, and the needs and concerns of various print or electronic media is necessary to allow incumbent to function effectively in widely diverse situations.

Knowledge of supervisory skills to supervise one GS-9 Park Ranger and intermittently other personnel assigned, particularly during emergency incidents.

Supervisory Controls

The vast bulk of the incumbent's work is made up of independently accomplishing tasks that fall within his/her overall area of responsibility, but leaving priority-setting and methodology up to the incumbent, with performance based upon results and/or compliance with guidelines and Park policies.

The Superintendent assigns new projects either by identifying the problem/issue or in terms of expected results, but the incumbent is responsible for determing means independently for their accomplishment. The Superintendent is often, but not always available, for guidance or consultation during task performance. Work is judged based upon results and the appropriate application of guidelines.


Written agency, Park, and Departmental guidelines are available in some cases, but the incumbent must know which to consult and to exercise substantial judgment to apply them to changing situations.

Much advice and counsel for actions and decision-making must be solicited from other park or agency managers or subject experts (eg. Biologists, law enforcement specialists), in order to assess the impact of various alternatives.


The incumbent's responsibilities and functions range from pure public relations, like doing TV interviews and hosting receptions, to land-use and business issues inherent in managing SUP's and ROW's. This diversity requires the capacity to organize, prioritize, interpret, different data into a coherent and practical frame of reference. The biological diversity and geographical expanse of the Park, widely varying park-local relationships, and the diverse range of management issues contribute to the complexity. Particularly in dealing with the many external groups, the incumbent is often in "uncharted waters" and must constantly adapt, applying personal judgment to new situations.

Scope and Effect

A major purpose of the incumbent's position is to educate the public and influence public opinion, regarding the Park's resources, problems, and issues. This position is of critical importance in shaping the pubic's opinion of the NPS, the Park, and its activities, and in gaining their acceptance and support of Park management plans and programs. This support ranges from merely not protesting park decisions to active support, either monetarily, or through the political process.

Incumbent participates on an important level in the overall management and decision-making of the Park that guides planning and program development, and impacts upon the long and short-term protection of Park resources and the experience of its visitors.

Through contacts with the local and national media, the incumbent localizes national issues and helps to generate increased understanding and support for national initiatives.

The incumbent's management of the Park's ROW's and permitted lands contributes directly to the protection of approximately 3,000 acres of affected lands and the natural and cultural resources they contain.

Personal Contacts

Has frequent contact with all levels of Park employees and officials in the Departmental, Regional, and Washington Offices including the Secretary, Directorates and their staffs.

Contacts officials of other government agencies, U.S. and local elected officials and their staffs, and foreign government officials. Also meets with key people in the private sector, including corporate heads, local business owners, and a wide diversity of citizen's groups, interested in conservation, agriculture, hunting and tourism. Through off-site presentations and media coverage, the incumbent communicates, directly or indirectly, with a large cross-section of the public.

Purpose of Contacts

Contacts with government are to plan, implement, and administer projects and programs. Contacts with external agencies, groups and the media are for the purpose of gathering and/or exchanging information and generating approval and cooperation. Exercises authority of Superintendent to make binding decisions and commitments.

Physical Demands

Work is mainly sedentary in an office setting but involves some hiking to inspect facilities or escort visitors and sometimes extensive travel by vehicle, air, or boat.

Working Conditions

Work is performed in an office setting, and also in any part of the Park where required to accomplish assignments. Must be able to travel on short notice to represent the National Park Service and the Superintendent.