The President's Management Agenda
Commitment to the President's Management Agenda
U SPTO is committed to the implementation of the PMA. This is evidenced by the progress made in improving the strategic management of human capital, competitive sourcing, improved financial performance, expanded e-Government, and budget and performance integration.
Strategic Management of Human Capital: The USPTO's 21st Century Strategic Plan , together with the USPTO Strategic Workforce/Restructuring Plan, lay out an explicit workforce planning strategy that is linked to the Agency's strategic and program planning efforts. The Agency has projected its current and future human capital needs, including the size of the workforce and its deployment across the organization; and has identified key competencies needed to fulfill the agency's mission and strategic goals. The 21st Century Strategic Plan and the USPTO Strategic Workforce/Restructuring Plan demonstrate that the USPTO is focused on building competencies in response to customer demands for enhanced quality. We have instituted a patent examiner certification program, including a certification examination. Testing is underway to ensure that patent examiners have the requisite knowledge and skills to be promoted to the GS-13 level and to be granted certification of legal competency. At the GS-13 level all patent examiners are expected to correctly perform all basic, advanced, and legal patent examining functions without any prior instructions and with only a cursory review of their work products by their supervisor. The Agency is leveraging competitive sourcing and e-Government to better manage time devoted to examination of patent and trademark applications. The USPTO has become a recognized leader in federal government telework programs, and has received numerous awards for its accomplishments in this regard. The Office was the recipient of the 2003 Mid-Atlantic Telecommuting Advisory Council 's Best Company/ Organization for Teleworkers Award, because of its leadership in telework policy, active promotion of telework programs, innovative use of technology, and its unique approach to teleworking. As a consequence of this recognized success, other federal agencies have sought our assistance in establishing their own telework programs. The 21st Century Strategic Plan also views workforce planning from an international perspective, and incorporates how work sharing can have an impact on USPTO's human capital planning and management. In addition, the USPTO's current organizational structure supports decision-making at the lowest appropriate level.
Competitive Sourcing: We will achieve performance enhancements and cost-savings through competitive sourcing. In this regard, we have already competitively sourced many functions, such as payroll, mail processing/handling, clerical support, data transcription, systems maintenance and development, help desk support, etc. In particular, service contracts have presented an excellent opportunity to help us deal with fluctuating workloads and to minimize the impact on our employees as the Agency transitions to a fully electronic workplace. Currently, approximately 35 percent of the USPTO's total workforce consists of contract personnel working either onsite or offsite at contractor facilities. The 21st Century Strategic Plan offers new approaches for performing work that is currently accomplished by federal employees. While preserving the inherently governmental responsibility for examination, the USPTO is committed to increasing total patent examiner output by competitively sourcing prior art searches, classification of patent documents, and performance of administrative reviews associated with the PCT process. All decisions regarding patentability will remain the responsibility of patent examiners who are USPTO employees. The USPTO has a competitive sourcing plan and will be announcing competitions in fiscal year 2005 depending on the ultimate enactment date of the fee legislation. The USPTO also made strides in performance-based services acquisition and, as a result, was awarded the government-wide Excellence in Performance-Based Services Acquisition Award sponsored by the GSA and the Performance Institute in fiscal year 2004.
Anne Chasser, Former Commissioner for Trademarks (left) accepts the "Best Organization for Teleworkers" award from Pam Tucker, President of the Mid-Atlantic Telework Advisory Council (right).
Improved Financial Performance: Again, in fiscal year 2004, the USPTO is in compliance with all federal accounting principles and standards and has encountered no instances of material weaknesses in internal controls or non-compliance with financial related laws and regulations. We will continue to maintain and strengthen our internal controls and improve the timeliness and usefulness of our financial management information. In fact, for fiscal year 2004, the USPTO met all quarterly financial reporting requirements instituted by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Again, the USPTO sustained its clean audit opinion, with fiscal year 2004 marking the 12th consecutive unqualified audit opinion and the seventh consecutive year with no material weaknesses. The USPTO has a certified and accredited, fully integrated financial management system and uses a data warehouse to accommodate both financial and operational data. The data warehouse is used by managers for analyzing financial results and performance and by Supervisory Patent examiners for managing patent processing timeframes. The USPTO also operates a mature ABC system that captures costs of core mission activities and both direct and indirect costs for the entire USPTO. Managers use data from the ABC system to analyze the cost of operations when making decisions regarding improving processes, setting fees, or developing budget requirements.
E-Government: The USPTO is accelerating deployment of critical automated information systems, particularly the electronic end-to-end processing of patent and trademark applications. The USPTO successfully completed deployment of the patent IFW system in August, 2004, whereby 88 percent of patent applications are electronically processed, exceeding the goal to electronically manage 70 percent of patent applications. All incoming and outgoing paper documents are captured electronically in the system and the last remaining pending paper applications will be scanned into the system by the end of the first quarter of fiscal year 2005, with the electronic version of an application now considered the official file. In addition to IFW, the Patent organization no longer mails paper U.S. references to applicants, instead making the information available to applicants via the Internet. Additionally, for the first time, anyone with Internet access anywhere in the world can now use the USPTO's website ( www.uspto.gov ) to track the status of a public patent application as it moves from pre-grant publication to final disposition and review documents in the official application file, including all decisions made by patent examiners and their reasons for making them. The system, known as PAIR, offers the public an advanced electronic portal for PDF viewing, downloading and printing an array of information and documents for patent applications not covered by confidentiality laws. Public PAIR also offers a quick-click feature for ordering certified copies of patent applications and application files. In addition, the USPTO is currently working on ways to improve delivery schedules, reliability, performance, security, and monitoring the cost of its automated information systems.
The USPTO will implement the Trademark Information System, which is a trademark electronic file management system, by the end of fiscal year 2005. This completes a twelve-year effort to provide an end-to-end fully electronic trademark processing environment.
The USPTO chooses IT projects that best support its mission and comply with its enterprise architecture. Individual projects are evaluated in the broader context of technical alignment with other IT systems as well as the investment's impact to the USPTO IT portfolio's performance, as measured by cost, benefit, and risk. As part of the Capital Planning and Investment Control process, the USPTO prioritizes each investment and decides which projects will be funded in subsequent fiscal years. Once selected, each project is managed and monitored consistently throughout its life cycle. At key milestone dates, progress reviews are conducted to compare the project's status to planned benefit, cost, schedule technical efficiency, and effectiveness measures. All major IT system investments are included in fiscal year 2005 Exhibit 53 and Exhibit 300 business cases.
Budget and Performance Integration: Since fiscal year 1999, the USPTO has developed an annual corporate plan that links the annual performance plan and budget request such that resource requirements for continuing programs and new initiatives are aligned with outputs and performance goals. Subsequently, in June 2002, the USPTO introduced The 21st Century Strategic Plan and an updated version of the plan in February 2003, in order to address issues raised by intellectual property stakeholders. The 21st Century Strategic Plan is a five-year plan that identifies critical tasks designed to provide the USPTO and external stakeholders with a long-term vision of agency goals, potential funding levels, and planned outcomes. Since then, USPTO has refined its budget formulation process for better integration of budgetary resources with both enterprise-wide strategic goals and individual unit performance targets.