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User Experience Designer

We’re hiring a User Experience Designer for 18F at the GS-15 level to help us build amazing products for our agency partners. This page includes key objectives for the role as well as the official job description. The Duties and Qualifications on this page are specific to the GS-15 level position. Applicants must be willing to relocate to or commute to San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, or Washington, DC. You can apply at the bottom or learn more about the application process at Join TTS Hiring Process.

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Please note: Innovation Specialist is the official title for the government Position Description related to this posting.

Role Summary:

User Experience Designer GS-15

User experience designers at 18F drive research activities, derive insights, generate concepts, communicate those concepts visually, and work with developers and product managers to build and test them. They foster best practices in user-centered design within 18F and across the federal government through advocacy and coaching.

UX designers should have deep strength in design research (both generative and evaluative). No one can be equally expert at everything, but in addition to design research, we do expect strong craft skills, confidence, and sophistication in at least one of the following areas: interaction design, service design, and information architecture.

As a UX designer, you’ll work in cross-functional teams of experts in design, product strategy, technical architecture, software engineering, data science, and procurement. Besides building useful and usable digital services, part of your job will be helping teams improve their user-centered design practice, and helping teams without those practices get started.

If you are committed to improving government services by focusing on the people who need them most, this is the position for you.

Key Objectives

Objective #1: Demonstrate excellence in design research, while grasping the core questions and responsibilities of at least one other UX discipline.

In addition to strong skill in design research, we expect expertise in at least one of the following disciplines:

  • Interaction design: Define interface logic and behavior, always keeping human behaviors and needs in mind.
  • Information architecture: Organize and structure complex information to help diverse audiences easily find what they need.
  • Service design: Improve the relationship of the customer or user and the service provider across all of their interactions and communication channels.

Successful UX designers:

  • Zoom in and out. Generate innovative, high-level product strategies as well as the practical project steps and considerations to get there. Are visionary in objective, but pragmatic in approach.
  • Support collaborative decision making by telling compelling stories drawn from research that illustrate the pros and cons of various options.
  • Show persistent commitment to thoughtful and ethical user research.
  • Deliver whatever’s needed to guide development — this could include wireframes, sitemaps, flowcharts, storyboards, user stories, or interpretive dance.
  • Create written materials and visual presentations that are accessible to non-experts but that are legally and technically accurate.
  • Incorporate UX into agile development sprints, coordinating with visual and content designers, developers, and product managers to achieve a strategic vision.
  • Use modern interaction design patterns and best practices, understanding that there are exceptions to every rule.
  • Commit to making what we build fully accessible to the people we serve.

Objective 2: Advance UX practice

Successful UX Designers:

  • Clearly communicate user-centered methods and their value to non-designers.
  • Mentor and coach colleagues and partners who are taking on new tasks and roles within design and research.
  • Share knowledge, techniques, tools, patterns, and expert advice with colleagues, partners, and the public.
  • Promote empathy not just for members of the public, but also our partners across the government and our co-workers.

Objective #3: Work effectively in the federal government

Successful UX Designers:

  • Skillfully navigate complex organizational relationships to resolve questions.
  • Cooperatively negotiate disagreements and mediate compromises.
  • Build inclusive, respectful partnerships with diverse groups of people.
  • Demonstrate genuine interest in the day-to-day activities that keep our government running.

Basic Information

Job Title: Innovation Specialist

Series & Grade: 0301-15

Promotion Potential: No

Salary Range: Base salary GS-15 - $105,123.00 to $136,659.00

For specific details on locality pay, please visit If you are a new federal employee, your starting salary will likely be set at the Step 1 of the grade you applied to.

Location: Washington, DC; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; New York, NY

Supervisory status: No

Travel requirement: Occasional travel may be required up to 10-20% per year

Who May Apply: All United States citizens and nationals (residents of American Samoa and Swains Islands) and applicants must not be GSA employees or contractors

Security clearance: Public trust. Background investigation required.

Work Schedule: Full time

Appointment Type: Excepted Service: Not to exceed 24 months (2 years); may be extended for an additional 2 years for a maximum of 4 years total.

Job Summary

This is a Schedule A position under 5 CFR 213.3102(r) to hire unique technical skills to develop innovative digital tools and services in the Excepted Service, U.S. Digital Service 18F Fellowship Program. This position is located in the General Services Administration (GSA), Office of Citizen Services Innovation and Technology & 18F (OCIST/18F). The 18F office is charged with developing innovative digital tools and services. 18F uses lean start­up and agile development principles to make easy things easy and hard things possible. As an Innovation Specialist the incumbent serves the government and makes an impact on a truly massive scale. The position requires that fellows perform work of an exceptional degree of difficulty across a wide range of topics at the convergence of technology, policy, and delivery. The incumbent leverages his/her experience deploying high quality, user centric platforms and services to lead major initiatives, consult on systems and policy proposals, and provide technical, policy, and programmatic guidance to government. The position involves access to PII data.

This position is located within the General Services Administration (GSA), Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), Technology Transformation Service (TTS), Office of 18F.

GSA has been repeatedly named as one of the ‘Best Places to Work’ in the federal government. You will have access to many benefits including:

  • Health insurance (choose from a wide range of plans)
  • Life insurance coverage with several options
  • Sick leave and vacation time, including 10 paid holidays per year
  • Thrift Savings Plan (similar to a 401(k) plan)
  • Flexible work schedules and telework
  • Transit and child care subsidies
  • Training and development
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Training and development

Key Requirements

  1. You must be a U.S. Citizen or National (residents of American Samoa and Swains Islands)
  2. Suitable for federal employment, determined by a background investigation.
  3. You may be required to serve a trial period.
  4. Direct Deposit of salary check to financial organization required.
  5. Register with Selective Service, if you are a male born after 12/31/1959.

Employment Requirements

  • Serve a one year trial period, if required.
  • Undergo and pass a background investigation. You must be granted this clearance before you can start the job.
  • Have your identity and work status eligibility verified if you are not a GSA employee. We will use the Department of Homeland Security’s e-Verify system for this.
  • Any discrepancies must be resolved as a condition of continued employment.
  • Complete a financial disclosure report to verify that no conflict, or an appearance of conflict, exists between your financial interest and this position.


Typical duties include but are not limited to: Conceiving/recommending projects/studies to advance the state of the art in the specialty area; applying forward thinking design and development principles to product or services development, delivery and program management, such as lean startup, user centered design, and agile development; Analyzing and scoping the technical and policy requirements needed to implement complex digital solutions; Assessing the state of digital services provided by the Federal Government, and working to align strategies and practice; conferring with key government/private officials and top experts in the field, representing the agency at technical symposia and/or conferences; Developing authoritative papers/reports; developing and leading adoption of government wide standards for digital services, leading to their adoption across citizen and business facing government Services; Demonstrating thought leadership and contributing best practices in a variety of technologies and principles; Contributing to a talent strategy that includes recruiting innovators and entrepreneurs to participate in solving complex and esoteric challenges.


We will use a method called Category Rating to assess your application.

Here’s how it will work:

You will be scored based on a review of your application materials, measuring your possession of each of the following competencies:

  • Research methods: The knowledge and ability to understand and apply user research tools and methodologies.
  • Design methods: The ability to design interactive digital products, systems, and services.
  • Agile or iterative development: The knowledge of design and development approaches that include repeated testing of ideas and revision of those ideas based on testing results, and the ability to carry them out in a professional environment.
  • Teamwork & Collaboration: The ability to work cooperatively with others to accomplish objectives and build inclusive and mutually-beneficial partnerships.
  • TTS Core Values Alignment: The ability to work with integrity, transparency and resiliency in civic minded or high impact environment.

If found to be eligible and at least minimally qualified for the position, your score will be used to place you in a category (Best Qualified, Well Qualified, or Qualified).

If your resume does not support your possession of the competencies listed above, we may lower your score, which could place you in a lower category.

Within each category, veterans will receive selection priority over non-veterans if supported by appropriate documentation.


To qualify, you must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-14 in the federal service. Specialized experience is:

This experience must include ALL of the following:

  1. Usability/user testing, as well as at least three of the following research activities: Co-design or participatory design workshops, contextual inquiry, diary studies, discovery research, ethnography, field studies, observational research, or stakeholder interviews.
  2. Agile, lean or other iterative product development approaches (i.e. design sprints, scrum, and kanban).
  3. Teaching or mentoring developers, product managers, clients or other non-designers to achieve organizational objectives as well as product strategy.
  4. Managerial or leadership experience either in large, complex organizations (either public sector institutions, private corporations, or non-profits) or in highly regulated domains or in a highly bureaucratic environment.

Qualification determinations cannot be made when resumes do not include the required information, so failure to provide this information may result in disqualification.

For each job on your resume, provide:

  • the exact dates you held each job (from month/year to month/year or “present”)
  • number of hours per week you worked (if part time)

How To Apply

If you would like to learn more or if you’d like to be notified when the application is open, please sign up here.