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Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership

Thursday Dec 13, 2012

USPTO Named One of Federal Government’s Best Places to Work

Guest blog by Chief Administrative Officer Frederick Steckler

Today our agency had the great honor to be named one of the U.S. Federal Government’s Best Places to Work today by the non-profit Partnership for Public Service (PPS), which ranked the USPTO # 5 out of 292 federal agency subcomponents based on a survey of more than 700,000 civil servants conducted earlier this year by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The USPTO has climbed the rankings in recent years, from 105th in 2009, to 56th in 2010, to 19th in 2011—a remarkable achievement that speaks volumes about the dedication to excellence of every employee in our agency.

One large component of this success is our hugely successful telework program, which PPS recognized earlier this year with a nomination for its annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America (Sammies) awards. This improved flexibility in work location for more than 64 percent of our workforce has reduced examiner turnover to historically low levels, increased examiner productivity, and saved the agency millions each year in overhead costs. Building collaborative team-based approaches to projects and increasing technical and leadership training opportunities have also paid huge dividends in improving the morale and effectiveness of our highly talented and creative employees. And of course thanks to the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act signed into law last year, the agency has been able to accelerate our hiring of patent examiners from just over 6,000 five years ago to nearly 8,000 patent examiners today. At the same time, our backlog of unexamined patent applications has dropped from 760,000 at the start of 2009 to 605,000 today—despite an increase in patent applications during that same period.

Last week, OPM released the results of the 2012 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (EVS). The USPTO had a 76 percent participation rate, and its scores had increased across all of the categories measured by the survey—including areas like Effective Leadership and Strategic Management—with the agency ranked in or near the top 10 percent in each category. This, too, is a tribute to the tireless dedication of our employees and agency leaders. Agency leadership is currently examining each of the categories in greater depth so we can improve or sustain those things that we are doing well and fix any problems that may have been identified in the survey responses. The business units will be preparing an overview of the results in their individual areas to share with employees.

If you conduct business with the USPTO and have the opportunity to interact with agency staff, you should know how truly fortunate we all are to have some of the most knowledgeable and hard-working employees anywhere in the federal government or the private sector. I join with Director Kappos in being very proud of the great work our managers, examiners, and other professionals have done these past few years, during a period of historic change for our nation’s intellectual property laws and our agency itself. As Director Kappos has said many times over the past few years, the three words you won’t hear around the USPTO is, “Business as usual.” The results of the EVS and PPS rankings prove that beyond any shadow of a doubt.

Comments:

WoW, You make it so Wonderful! I am an Inventor, age 55 & disabled who loves to work in creativity. Patent Number: D298534. I live near Dallas, Texas where your new satilite office is or will be located. Thank you in advance for this opportunity to communicate with you directly. MERRY CHRISTMAS & GOD BLESS YOU!

Posted by K. Lee on December 15, 2012 at 01:25 PM EST #

Dear Mr. Kappos, It is also the easiest and most efficiant government agency. I handle the trademarking for the company I work for and get quick responses by pleasent personal, includuing the laywers. Thanks and keep up the good work. PauloBellacero Aurora Products

Posted by Paul Bellacero on January 03, 2013 at 11:15 AM EST #

Mr. Kappos and Mr.Stekler: Kudos to you for the fine work you are doing. I'm a manufacturing engineer and industrial designer, working for a maker of roadway workzone safety equipment. Also teach engineering at night school. I'm the founder of the Ground Floor Inventors Club of Chicago with a small following of area tinkerers, dreamers and innovators. (find us on Meetup) We hear good remarks from fledgling inventors about you guys. Thanks, John I Lund 6,178,676 6,705,796

Posted by John I Lund on January 25, 2013 at 12:43 PM EST #

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