|Performance and Accountability Report Fiscal Year 2009
Management's Discussion and Analysis
Management Goal: Achieve Organizational Excellence
Fulfilling the USPTO’s mission and goals requires strong leadership and collaborative management. While the three strategic goals focus on the core mission, the management goal focuses on the organizational excellence that is a prerequisite for achieving those goals. Collectively, the USPTO leadership is responsible for core management activities in these critical areas.
Working as Partners for Superior Performance
During FY 2009, USPTO business units worked as true partners across the organization to achieve superior performance and provide strategic leadership, as follows:
HUMAN CAPITAL — Human Capital Implementation Plans were developed by business units to carry out the Agency’s Human Capital Strategic Plan by developing initiatives, programs, and training in support of the three “human capital” objectives of talent management, results-oriented performance culture, and leadership and knowledge management. The 2008 Federal Human Capital Survey (FHCS) results were shared with each business unit. Although the overall survey results were very favorable and show an improvement over the 2006 survey, there are areas that need attention. The Office of Human Resources (OHR) continues to coordinate with business units on the implementation of their Human Capital plans and share best practices, lessons learned, and challenges for the future. The Business Units are in the process of developing human capital action plans to address the top ten challenges from the 2008 FHCS results.
PROCESS IMPROVEMENT — To continue to strive for organizational excellence, the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (OCAO) implemented a Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement Program. This program has resulted in significant improvements to the Facilities Help Desk process and the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Dispute process. Presently, the program is focused on improving processes related to the Human Resources Customer Service process and the Conference Services process. Additional efforts are anticipated to continue into the future. Improved processes within OCAO yield improved morale and greater efficiencies for the Agency. They also help USPTO employees to maintain their focus on the Agency’s mission.
EXPANSION OF TELEWORK — The USPTO is still considered a leader in Federal telework programs and several outside organizations continue to rate our program as the best. This year the USPTO expanded its telework population to 5,068, translating to 81.3 percent of eligible positions that are teleworking.
DIVERSITY — Skillful EEO management is critical to organizational excellence. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) works closely with the OHR to develop a comprehensive diversity recruitment strategy. This year, the OCR created a cross-trained team as an entry point to customer services. This team is charged with rapid resolution of both EEO complaints and disability accommodation requests. The OCR continued to promote the Agency’s efforts to increase the diversity of the workforce. Notably, the USPTO has one of this highest Asian-American representation rates in Government. Over 20 percent of the Agency’s total workforce is Asian. In addition, the OCR led Black History; Hispanic Heritage; and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender observations. The OCR remains proactive in preventing discrimination and harassment by providing training to all new hires and many of the Agency’s new managers.
SAFE WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT — The USPTO continually aims to create a workplace environment that is modern, safe, secure, attractive, and energy efficient. In FY 2009, the Agency’s emergency preparedness program was enhanced by the rollout of several new and proactive initiatives including our Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) computer-based training. The USPTO’s COOP plan was expanded to include a Pandemic Annex; lockdown and shelter-in-place drills which were successfully conducted in all buildings; and an Emergency Preparedness/Occupant Emergency Plan webcast that was broadcast to all employees. To further support emergency preparedness, COOP-related tabletop exercises were held with Business Unit COOP managers, Emergency Response Group personnel, and Reconstitution Team members.
In response to an expiring lease at the South Tower Building in Crystal City, Virginia, the USPTO also completed the design and interior construction of the Randolph Square Building in nearby Arlington, Virginia, accepting 160,000 square feet of new office space exclusively for USPTO personnel. The nine-story building features distinctive architecture and interior design, including a two-story entry lobby, with historical patent representations inscribed on the walls of each floor to signify the space as being uniquely for the USPTO.
In response to the national call to conserve energy resources, the USPTO embarked on a number of new green initiatives, including the launching of an internal Web site dedicated to helping employees achieve more sustainable lifestyles at both work and home, as well as the Agency’s first-ever “Green Fair” featuring a broad range of exhibitors from both local and Federal organizations attended by more than 1,000 employees.
Ensuring Excellence in Management Processes
HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT — The transformation of the OHR continues to be an area of focus to enhance organizational excellence. In particular, the OHR’s customer service was enhanced by significantly improving our new employee orientation program and participation in our employee exit survey process. Improving the orientation process was critical since it often contributes to an employee’s first impression of the Agency. By improving the exit process, the OHR is now able to target and evaluate the most common reasons why employees leave the USPTO, and in turn, look at ways to reduce attrition. OHR held many successful OHR on Wheels events where they take OHR services out to our customers. Positive feedback has been received about each of these areas of improvement. Additionally, our careers Web site (www.usptocareers.gov) was recognized by the Web Marketing Association for Outstanding Achievement in Web site Development. This Web site was designed to provide a realistic job preview that clearly and simply describes the type of work and the challenges of the job. It also markets the USPTO as an employer of choice.
FEE MANAGEMENT — The current fee structure establishes relatively low filing fees to encourage entry into the patent process, with the cost of examination heavily subsidized by patent issuance and maintenance fees. These substantially higher fees are paid later in the process by those who are successful in obtaining patent rights and who wish to maintain those rights for the full patent term. The public policy behind this approach has been the view that by keeping financial barriers to entry low, inventors of all economic means can share their innovations with the public by filing patent applications.
The USPTO is conducting a study and analysis of the fees charged for providing products and services under the current fee schedule. This review will provide recommendations for altering the fee schedule to encourage innovation, while enabling the USPTO to provide high quality and timely examination of patent and trademark applications. Certain fees are established to recover, on average, the full costs of providing products and services, whereas the major patent processing fees have been established in statute. A review of full costs related to PCT International transmittals and searches resulted in adjustments to those fees during the fiscal year.
The USPTO is continuing an effort to modernize the Revenue Accounting and Management (RAM) system, a mission-critical fee collection system that provides automated support and controls for processing fee payments, debits and credits to customer deposit accounts, and refunds. RAM interfaces with more than 20 automated information systems to provide fee information (e.g., fee history, payment detail, etc.) and to allow customers to pay various fees over the Internet via credit card, Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), or via a USPTO-established deposit account.
The USPTO has performed a business process reengineering on the fee collection process and has determined where recommendations will fit into the RAM Modernization program. A five-year program to modernize RAM has been created using a combination of commercial off-the-shelf, Government off-the-shelf, and custom web services technology. Modernization will optimize these processes to obtain greater efficiencies and improved customer service and ensure compliance.
AUTOMATED INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT — The Office of Inspector General (OIG) indicated that the USPTO’s process for certifying contractor and government systems produced sufficient information to enable the authorizing officials to make credible risk-based accreditation decisions. As a result, the USPTO believes that the improvements in IT Security realized this year provide the evidence which led to the resolution of the material weakness. The Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) continues to work diligently with the OIG and the DOC to improve the USPTO’s overall IT security program and the quality of the certification and accreditation (C&A) packages.
The OCIO continues to work on improving the visibility of IT costs by instituting a standardized budget execution tool with assistance from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO). This has allowed the OCIO to work with all of the USPTO Business Units to create an improved long-term IT investment strategy, which is discussed further in the USPTO Strategic Information Technology Plan (SITP) (www.uspto.gov/web/offices/cio/sitp/index.html).
In fulfilling responsibilities under 44 U.S.C. § 3504(h), the USPTO uses a Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) process to prioritize investments and determine funding levels for subsequent fiscal years. Projects are carefully managed throughout their life cycle, and progress reviews are conducted at key milestone dates to compare the project’s status to planned benefit, cost, and schedule, along with technical efficiency and effectiveness measures. All major IT system investments are reported in the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Circular A-11, Exhibit 53 submission and the USPTO’s IT Investment Portfolio for FY 2009.
Enhancing On-line Access to Information
In keeping with the Administration’s commitments for Transparency, Participation, and Collaboration, the USPTO provided the 2009 Patent Application and Grant datasets to the Data.gov Web site. The purpose of Data.gov is to increase awareness and access to machine-readable information produced by the U.S. Federal Executive Branch. Through Data.gov, the public can easily find, download, and use these datasets.
The USPTO continued to make improvements in our IT enterprise architecture, internal processes, and organizational alignment to improve our ability to be more responsive and better manage and deliver quality products at enhanced service levels. In particular, these initiatives directly support efforts to:
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