Performance Goals and Results
USPTO Strategic Plan
The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) requires that agencies plan and measure the performance of their programs. In carrying out GPRA, the USPTO prepares a Strategic Plan, an Annual Performance Plan, and an Annual Performance Report. The USPTO began fiscal year 2004 guided by the 21st Century Strategic Plan that was most recently updated in February 2003 and covers the period through fiscal year 2008. While the mission, goals, and strategies have served us well, the environment in which the intellectual property system operates worldwide has changed dramatically. There are an estimated 14.8 million pending patent applications in the world's examination pipeline. Technology has become increasingly complex, and customer demands for higher quality products and services have escalated.
This dynamic, along with Congressional concerns about the USPTO's ability to continue to operate under a traditional business model, led to the development of the 21st Century Strategic Plan . This Strategic Plan can be found on the USPTO website: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/strat21/index.htm . To deal with these concerns, the USPTO developed a response to the environmental challenges facing the USPTO and to address the issues raised by the Congress and our stakeholders. The 21st Century Strategic Plan is a far-reaching and aggressive plan designed to transform the USPTO into an organization that is responsive to the global economy. After implementation of the plan, market forces will drive our business model and geography, time will be irrelevant when doing business with the USPTO, products and services will be tailored to customer needs, and examination will be our core expertise. The plan is centered around three long-term cross-cutting strategic themes:
- Agility: Address the 21st century economy by becoming a more agile organization—We will create a flexible organization and work processes that can handle the increasing expectations of our markets, the growing complexity and volume of our work, and the globalization that characterizes the 21st century economy. We will work, both bilaterally and multilaterally, with our partners to create a stronger, better-coordinated and more streamlined framework for protecting intellectual property around the world. We will transform the USPTO workplace by radically reducing labor-intensive paper processing.
- Capability: Enhance quality through workforce and process improvements—We will make patent and trademark quality our highest priority by emphasizing quality in every component of this Strategic Plan . Through the timely issuance of high-quality patent and trademark registrations, we will respond to market forces by promoting advances in technology, expanding business opportunities and creating jobs.
- Productivity: Accelerate processing times through focused examination—We will control patent and trademark pendency, reduce time to first office action, and recover our investments in people, processes and technology.
The USPTO has developed supporting performance goals and measures to implement our strategic themes. The three supporting performance goals tracked through 13 measures include:
|GOAL 1:||Improve the quality of patent products and services and optimize patent processing time.
|GOAL 2:||Improve the quality of trademark products and services and optimize trademark processing time.
|GOAL 3:||Create a more flexible organization through transitioning patent and trademark operations to an e-Government environment and participate in intellectual property development worldwide.|
The Agility theme is linked to the third performance goal and incorporates ongoing initiatives in e-Government and collaboration with our intellectual property partners worldwide. As a first priority, the USPTO has made electronic end-to-end processing of both patents and trademarks the centerpiece of its business model by deploying critical automated information systems. In addition, the USPTO is currently working on ways to improve delivery schedules, reliability, performance, security and monitoring of the cost of all our automated information systems. Further, the USPTO is enhancing existing and establishing new alliances with our friends in other national and international intellectual property organizations to strengthen intellectual property rights (IPR) around the world.
The Capability theme crosses all performance goals, emphasizing the quality and process improvement elements within the USPTO, and permeating our activities and operations. Quality will be assured throughout the process by hiring the people who make the best patent and trademark examiners, certifying their knowledge and competencies throughout their careers at the USPTO, and focusing on quality throughout the examination of patent and trademark applications.
The Productivity theme is linked to performance goals 1 and 2 and addresses the planned longer-term reduction in patent and trademark pendency, as measured by the average first action pendency and the average total pendency.
In fiscal year 2004, the USPTO continued implementing goals and objectives put forth in the plan, to the extent they were consistent with Congressional intent and supported by our stakeholders and applicants. Following is a table indicating the resource obligations for the USPTO performance goals.
Equivalent (FTE) Totals
|Goal 1: Improve the quality of patent products and services and optimize patent processing time||$1,059||5,832|
|Goal 2: Improve the quality of trademark products and services and optimize trademark processing time||112||693|
|Goal 3: Create a more flexible organization through transitioning patent and trademark operations to e-Government environment and advancing IP development worldwide||62||102|
Under Secretary Dudas (seated center), Jo-Anne Barnard, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer (to his right), and Michelle Picard, Director, Office of Finance (far right) pose with members of the Annual Performance Review team. The team received the "Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting Award," from the Association of Government Accountants for the USPTO Fiscal Year 2003 Performance and Accountability Report.
Performance Data Verification and Validation
I n accordance with GPRA requirements, the USPTO is committed to making certain that performance information reported is reliable, accurate, and consistent. To ensure the highest quality data, the USPTO has developed a strategy to validate and verify the quality of the USPTO's performance information. The USPTO has undertaken the following:
Accountability – Responsibility for providing performance data lies in the Patent and Trademark organizations. The USPTO holds program managers accountable for ensuring procedures are in place regarding the accuracy of their data and that the performance measurement source is complete and reliable.
Quality Control – Automated systems and databases that collect, track, and store the performance indicators are monitored and maintained by the Patent and Trademark organizations, with systems support provided by the Chief Information Officer's organization. Each system, such as PALM or TRAM, incorporates internal program edits to control the accuracy of supporting data. The edits typically evaluate data for reasonableness, consistency, and accuracy. Cross-checks against other internal automated systems also provide assurances of data reasonableness and consistency. In addition to internal monitoring of each system, experts outside of the business units routinely monitor the data collection methodology. The Chief Financial Officer's organization is responsible for managing the agency's performance, providing direction and support on data collection methodology and analysis, ensuring that data quality checks are in place, and reporting performance management data. At the beginning of each fiscal year, and at various points throughout the reporting or measurement period, sampling techniques and sample counts are reviewed and adjusted to ensure data are statistically reliable for making inferences about the population as a whole. Data analyses are also conducted to assist the business units in interpreting the program data, such as the identification of statistically significant trends and underlying factors that may be impacting a specific performance indicator. For examination quality measures, the review programs themselves are assessed in terms of reviewer variability, data entry errors, and various potential biases.
Financial statement audit – During the fiscal year 2004 financial statement audit, various tests and reviews of the primary accounting system and internal controls were conducted as required by the Chief Financial Officers' Act. In their fiscal year 2004 report, the auditors reported no material weaknesses in internal controls or material compliance violations. The auditors issued an unqualified opinion on USPTO's fiscal year 2004 financial statements.
Performance AUDITS AND INSPECTIONS
T he Office of the Inspector General (OIG) also contributes to the USPTO's efforts to assure audit and evaluation coordination and coverage of USPTO goals. The OIG conducted the following types of audits and evaluations:
One performance audit and two inspections were completed in fiscal year 2004. In the first case, the OIG reviewed the USPTO's Office of Human Resources (OHR) (USPTO Needs Strong Office of Human Resources Management Capable of Addressing Current and Future Challenges, BTD-16432-4-0001/June 2004) . The purpose of this performance audit was to identify any systemic weaknesses that might be fostering problems with the USPTO's human resources management. The results of the audit showed that the USPTO had taken significant steps to improve the operations of OHR. In addition, the report states that the USPTO is taking the necessary actions to ensure that the OHR identifies any skill gaps and provides a solid plan that each employee and his or her supervisor can use in scheduling training, developmental assignments, and self-development activities.
The purpose of the first inspection (USPTO Should Reassess How Examiner Goals, Performance Appraisal Plans, and the Award System Stimulate and Reward Examiner Production, IPE-15722/September 2004) was to determine whether USPTO's current means for enhancing production-patent examiner goals, awards, and performance appraisal plans reflect current efficiencies in work processes and improved technology. Several recommendations were reported, and the USPTO concurred with the recommendations. The Office will reassess its current examiners' goals, performance appraisal plans, and award system in terms of their effectiveness in achieving the objectives of the USPTO's 21st Century Strategic Plan .
The second inspection (USPTO's Move to Alexandria, Virginia, Is Ahead of Schedule, But Some Key Issues Need to Be Resolved, IPE-16268/September 2004) evaluated USPTO's efforts thus far to monitor construction and execute the relocation of the agency to Alexandria, Virginia. The OIG inspection found that both the USPTO and the GSA are adequately managing the project and providing sufficient oversight of construction and lease costs. The USPTO concurred with the two OIG recommendations, agreeing to proceed toward finalizing an occupancy agreement with the GSA and submitting the required documentation for additional space to accommodate future staff growth.
Under Secretary Dudas speaks at the 9th Annual Independent Inventors Conference, in Concord, New Hampshire.