Performance Goals and Results
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 and an annual performance report, which can be found on our website: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/strat21/index.htm . By design, the performance plan is linked to the budget submissions and reflects the priorities of the Under Secretary and the goals contained in the 21st Century Strategic Plan . The budget can be found at: http://www.uspto.gov/about/stratplan/budget/index.jsp .
The USPTO began FY 2006 guided by the aggressive and far-reaching 21st Century Strategic Plan . Technology is increasingly complex and customer demands for high quality products and services have escalated. At the same time, the number of pending patent applications in the world’s examination pipeline continues to increase significantly. Congress has voiced concerns about the agency’s ability to effectively fulfill the mission in the future if we continue to operate in a traditional manner. The 21st Century Strategic Plan addresses these challenges and concerns. The Plan focuses our expertise on examination and leverages that expertise to provide customers with better products and services. Three long-term, cross-cutting strategic themes comprise the Plan’s core:
- 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 patents 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 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 16 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..|
In FY 2006 the USPTO assessed the progress made with the goals and initiatives of the 21st Century Strategic Plan , as documented in our Interim Adjustment Document. There is now a draft of the Strategic Plan that will cover fiscal years 2007 through 2012. This Plan identifies objectives, initiatives, and performance measures and indicators that will enhance the degree of excellence or quality in every aspect of the patent and trademark processes – from the information we receive from applicants to the support provided to our own employees.
Performance Data Verification and Validation
In accordance with GPRA requirements, the USPTO is committed to making certain that performance information reported is complete, accurate, and consistent. To ensure the highest quality data, the USPTO has developed a strategy to validate and verify the quality, reliability, and credibility of USPTO performance results and has undertaken the following:
Accountability - Responsibility for providing performance data lies with managers of USPTO programs. The USPTO holds program managers accountable for making certain procedures are in place to ensure the accuracy of data and the performance measurement sources are complete and reliable.
Quality Control - Automated systems and databases that collect, track, and store our performance indicators are monitored and maintained by management of USPTO programs, with systems support provided by the Chief Information Officer’s organization. Each system, such as Patent Application Location and Monitoring (PALM) or Trademark Reporting and Monitoring (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 monitoring 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.
Financial Statement Audit - During the FY 2006 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 FY 2006 report, the auditors reported no material weaknesses in internal controls or compliance violations. The auditors issued an unqualified opinion on the USPTO’s FY 2006 financial statements. Additionally, as required by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Bulletin Number 06-03, the auditors reported that they had “obtained an understanding of the design of significant internal controls relating to the existence and completeness assertions” with respect to the performance measures reported in the Management’s Discussion and Analysis section.
Data Accuracy - The USPTO conducts verification and validation of performance measures periodically to ensure quality, reliability, and credibility. 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 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.
PERFORMANCE AUDITS AND EVALUATIONS
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) contributes to the USPTO’s efforts to assure audit and evaluation coordination and coverage of USPTO goals.
Two inspection reports were completed in FY 2006. In the first report, “Management of Commerce’s Federal Workers’ Compensation Program Need Significant Improvements,” IPE-17536/March 2006 , the OIG evaluated USPTO’s Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) program separately from their evaluation of the DOC since the USPTO manages its own workers’ compensation personnel and duties under authority of the 1999 American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA). Based on the OIG’s review of the FECA cases, USPTO processes most claims well within the ten days required by law; however, they did find some administrative and program weaknesses for example, that case management was inconsistent and policies, guidance, and training for supervisors was needed. The USPTO generally agrees with the findings and recommendations and has begun to work more closely with the Department of Labor to gain greater access to case information, creating Agency Administrative Orders on the Workers’ Compensation Program, and planning FECA training in the current training courses for new supervisors. No program evaluations were performed in FY 2006.
The second OIG report, “Commercial Service China Generally Performs Well But Opportunities Exist for Commerce to Better Coordinate Its Multiple China Operations,” IPE-17546/March 2006 , focused on the management of the Commercial Service’s (CS) post in China, including its programmatic, financial, and administrative operations. OIG also reviewed other Commerce operations and interests in China, including those of the USPTO. The OIG recommended that USPTO develop regular standards and an IPR training program in cooperation with National Institute of Standards and Technology to ensure that CS officers and other staff attend the training. USPTO agreed with OIG’s findings and is developing standards and an IPR training program in Beijing in conjunction with the standards officer for DOC at the Embassy in Beijing.
The performance of the USPTO’s two major program activities was assessed in FY 2003 using the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). All programs that undergo a PART evaluation receive weighted scores in four categories: program purpose and design, strategic planning, program management and program results and accountability. By using in-depth performance questions, PART evaluates how well a program is meeting its intended objectives; how effectively and efficiently it is managed and how well the program achieves results. The Patent organization received a rating of “adequate” with a score of 68, and the Trademark organization received a rating of “moderately effective” with a score of 73. The USPTO continues to implement improvements and annually updates performance data, improvement plans, and funding information for both PART evaluations for the OMB. USPTO was not PARTed in FY 2006.
Members of the Performance and Accountability Report team accept the “Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting Award” from the Association of Government Accountants for the USPTO Performance and Accountability Report for FY 2005.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued two audit reports this year. The first OPM audit, dated January 2006, looked at how the USPTO carried out its personnel security and suitability programs. The report stated it was evident that the key members of the USPTO staff have a good understanding of personnel suitability, security, and investigations guidelines, although improvement is needed in certain areas to meet the OPM requirements, such as ensuring all position descriptions contain the final risk or sensitivity level, and include adjustments for the appropriate IT designation level. The USPTO responded that it will ensure that all members of the Office of Security will be fully informed of all investigative guidelines and procedures as mandated by Executive Orders and regulations for protecting the interests of national security and for investigating and adjudicating individuals for employment in the federal service.
The USPTO concurs with the recommendations in the second audit report that covered the key systems of strategic human capital management dated March 2006 and has taken steps to address recurring external recruitment issues. These steps include: issuance of a memorandum and formal training for selecting officials; briefings by the Chief Administrative Officer; and providing written guidance to managers on proper selection procedures.