We have system administrators who sometimes need to better understand various configurations and settings within our JIRA environment and it would be helpful if we could give them read only access to administrative functions and configuration functions within JIRA (read only in part because of separation of duties considerations within our organization). How can we do that?
unfortunately it is not possible. You can't do it with a plugin too, because underlying JIRA API does not have such concept. https://docs.atlassian.com/jira/latest/com/atlassian/jira/permission/GlobalPermissionKey.html
You may also want to take a look at the "Global Permissions" page where in you can see what 'user groups' can do and not do. As you can see "JIRA System Administrators" and "JIRA Administrators" permissions have a slight difference on what they can do on the admin level. It's not exactly what you want or need, but worth noting.
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