|Performance and Accountability Report Fiscal Year 2007
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 three critical areas.
Working as Partners for Superior Performance
Employees are the USPTO's most valuable asset. So, USPTO leaders have singled out effective human capital management as a priority initiative to enhance employee development and to improve program performance throughout the USPTO. In FY 2007, the USPTO developed an enterprise-wide Strategic Human Capital Plan to address human capital challenges identified in the 2007-2012 Strategic Plan.
The USPTO will use the Strategic Human Capital Plan to identify, develop, and implement activities that will enable it to become an “employer of choice with a culture of high performance.” The Strategic Human Capital Plan identified four areas in which the Agency will focus its efforts: (1) talent management, (2) results-oriented performance culture, (3) leadership development and knowledge management, and (4) Office of Human Resources (OHR) transformation. Each of the USPTO business units is developing its own implementation plan to determine its approach to supporting enterprise-wide objectives. These are expected to be completed by January 2008.
The USPTO is working to continually improve the retention of qualified employees. In FY 2007, the USPTO hired 1,215 new patent examiners and 1,218 the prior year. To maintain this momentum, the USPTO implemented recruitment bonuses to attract and retain the most highly qualified candidates.
In addition, the Agency offers employees flexible work schedules and telework opportunities that raise morale, enhance work-life balance, and improve retention rates. For example, the USPTO expanded its telework and remote access programs by providing USPTO equipment and collaboration tools to employees to work-at-home so that they have the same capabilities and functionality as if they were working at the Alexandria campus.
For the USPTO to continue to be effective in today’s increasingly electronic and telecommuting environment, there must be clear communication among all levels of employees. The USPTO has placed increased emphasis on internal communications in an effort to improve individual and organizational performance by strategically managing communication, information, and knowledge throughout the Agency. This is being done by improving enterprise-wide information sharing; nurturing an open communication culture; enhancing leader-employee communication; and ensuring that our employees understand the Agency’s mission, goals and objectives, and their role in achieving them.
Ensuring Excellence in Management Processes
The Office of Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) is confident that the USPTO’s financial and performance data are complete, reliable, accurate, and consistent, as we improve our ability to measure progress toward performance objectives. For the 15th consecutive year, the USPTO earned an unqualified audit opinion on our annual financial statements. For financial reporting during FY 2007, the independent auditors did not identify any material weaknesses, significant deficiencies, or instances of noncompliance. However, the USPTO is reporting one non-financial material weakness in information technology (IT) security.
The Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is working diligently with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the DOC to improve the USPTO’s overall IT security program and the quality of the certification and accreditation (C&A) packages to remove the current material weakness identified for IT security.
The USPTO also made significant progress in tracking IT costs by project and category of expense through improved budget processes and controls. Through the efforts of the OCFO and the OCIO, USPTO managers can better understand the costs of providing IT products and services and thereby drive improved efficiency and cost reduction. 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. At key milestone dates, progress reviews are conducted 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, the USPTO’s IT Investment Portfolio, for FY 2009.
Enhancing Online Access to Information
Besides helping the Patent and Trademark organizations achieve record numbers of electronic filings of applications and related documents, the OCIO continued to make improvements in 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. These initiatives also directly support efforts to improve overall efficiency; improve availability of and streamline access to USPTO information, data, and services; serve an increasingly geographically dispersed work force; implement faster, more secure information exchange; and, continue expansion and improvement of e-filing, e-processing, and other e-government efforts.
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