Suzanne Rudzinski, Director, of the EPA's Transportation and Regional Programs presents to the USPTO's Tom Hellmer an award recognizing the USPTO as one of the best workplaces for commuters.
Shift in Complexity of Filings / Sustained Emphasis on Quality — The USPTO must address the challenges of rising workloads, the shift of applications from traditional arts to more complex technologies, and the reality that any limitations and delays placed on implementation of the 21st Century Strategic Plan initiatives will delay some of the quality improvements and many efficiency gains projected in the Strategic Plan. Technology has become increasingly complex, and demands from the public for higher quality products and services have grown in importance.
Electronic Workplace — The Patent and Trademark operations are rapidly moving to eliminate paper documents from their processes. As the reliance on paper disappears from internal processes, the costs for handling applications and related materials will be substantially reduced. Electronic communications will be improved, encouraging more applicants to do business electronically with the delivery of web-based text and image systems. Both Patent and Trademark organizations have made significant progress in achieving the long-term goal to create an e-Government operation, and Trademark now relies exclusively on trademark data submitted or captured electronically to support examination, publish documents, and issue registrations. However, this increased reliance on electronic systems presents challenges in storage and maintenance of data recovery in the event of outage and keeping systems robust and adaptable to continuous improvement.
Multilateral and Bilateral Agreements — To streamline the intellectual property system and protections, the USPTO must consult with, and receive the support of, other intellectual property offices in structuring new bilateral and multilateral initiatives and agreements. Reaching bilateral and multilateral agreements will require all sides to openly communicate and compromise in support of a more global convergence of patent and trademark standards.
Sustained Funding Stream — The sustained demands for the USPTO products and services have created substantial workload challenges in the processing of patents and trademarks. The Congress, the owners of intellectual property, the interest groups, and the public-at-large have all told USPTO that it must address these challenges aggressively and promptly. Sufficient funding and implementation of The 21st Century Strategic Plan initiatives and timeframes will address these challenges and will transform the USPTO into a quality driven, highly productive, and cost effective organization that will promote expansion of business opportunities, stimulate research and development, and expand U.S. businesses globally. Without this, the USPTO will not be able to make critical investments in human resources and technology necessary for developing and/or acquiring automated systems to move to a fully electronic operating environment, and improving pendency.
Space Consolidation - Move to Alexandria, Virginia
We can see the end to the long and arduous task of relocating employees to a consolidated campus in Alexandria, Virginia, while minimizing any adverse effects on employees, applicants and the public. Although the developer, LCOR, began relocation of site utilities and preliminary soil work for excavation in October 2001, it was not until December 19, 2001, when the GSA executed an amended and restated lease, that LCOR awarded a contract to Roy F. Weston, Inc., for excavation, and to Turner Construction for general construction. In fiscal year 2003, the interior space for the entire campus was planned, designed and put out for subcontractor bids to be awarded. With the aid of an exceptional government and development team, most phases of construction are currently either on or ahead of schedule. We occupied the first two buildings and the east garage in December 2003 and January 2004. The second phase of the move began in earnest in September, 2004 and will conclude in March, 2005 with full occupancy of the five interconnected buildings and two garages, each with a facade of townhouse offices.
We continue to face numerous logistical and operational challenges in executing the consolidation. Dual operations, including dual computer facilities, are required during the relocation because space will be delivered over a protracted period. Supporting employees and customers at geographically separate locations requires careful planning. The disruptions and downtime during the move must be minimized to avoid significant impact on productivity. However, the long-term benefit is a world-class facility with operational efficiencies and improved workspace allocation to accommodate our growing and changing workforce. This consolidation is expected to save over $72 million over the 20-year term of the lease.
Preparing to cut the ribbon at the new USPTO Headquarters in Alexandria are: Stephen A. Perry, Administrator General Services Administration, Sen. John Warner, James E. Rogan, Former Under Secretary of the USPTO, Rep. James Moran, Samuel Bodman, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, and Mayor William D. Euille.