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Collage showing images with one-word descriptors from the U S P T O Fiscal Year 2009 Performance and Accountability Report cover that reinforces the report’s tagline of Today’s Challenges – Tomorrow’s Solutions.
Performance and Accountability Report Fiscal Year 2009
Financial Section

Table of Contents | Management | Financial | Auditor | IG | Other

Message from the Acting Chief Financial Officer

Photo showing Mark J. Olechowski, Acting Chief Financial Officer.

The latter half of FY 2009 proved to be a challenging period of time for the USPTO. Being an Agency funded entirely by user fees, the recent economic downturn brought about a decline in fee collections, revealed vulnerability in the method for financing the USPTO, and hampered operations of the U.S. patent system. The impact of the downturn became evident when our customers started paying for fewer new patent applications and patents maintained.

In response, the USPTO promptly implemented almost $200 million in budget reductions and cost-savings measures: stopping all overtime, including that producing patents and fees; suspending new hiring, but for a few critical positions; reducing or eliminating all non-essential, information technology (IT) business system improvement projects; reducing the funds applied to critical IT infrastructure projects; reducing the level of operating services obtained through contracts; curtailing performance awards; significantly reducing mission-related travel; and suspending training except where mandatory to sustain critical job qualifications. These efforts positioned the USPTO to operate within the reduced fee collection levels through the end of FY 2009, and into FY 2010.

Throughout these difficult times, the OCFO continued to play a significant role in supporting the strategic direction of the USPTO by working as a trusted partner to the organization and providing sound advice to enable informed program and financial decision-making. As we look to the future, the OCFO will continue to expand its role by: working toward a long term solution for stabilizing the financing of the USPTO; intimately understanding the operations of our programs; guiding cost reduction efforts; identifying key business performance measures; adopting leading-edge information systems that support the USPTO strategic priorities; assuring compliance through adequate internal controls; and enhancing the financial and business skills of our employees.

Despite our financial challenges, and for the 17th consecutive year, we have received an unqualified opinion on our financial statements. Along with the unqualified opinion, the auditors reported no material weaknesses in the design and operation of the USPTO’s system of internal control over financial reporting. In addition, the auditors reported that our financial system complies with Federal financial systems requirements. For the seventh consecutive year, the Association of Government Accountants awarded the USPTO the Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting for our FY 2008 Performance and Accountability Report, clearly demonstrating our excellence in integrating performance and accountability reporting.

With a drive for continuous improvement, we continue to review financial management and related processes to identify areas for advancement in efficiency, financial and performance data integration, and internal controls to ensure unmatched reliability in financial activities. As a case in point, this year we sought out an independent validation of our cost accounting methodology and program. The assessment found that the USPTO has built a robust activity-based cost modeling system that ranks at highest levels in terms of best practice within the government, as well as outside the government. This is an important foundation as we thoroughly analyze the cost of operations at the USPTO relative to the fees we charge for patent and trademark products and services.

As noted by many, the USPTO continued a high standard of financial management and its achievements and challenging goals can only be accomplished by the dedicated efforts of our talented and committed employees. We look forward to the future with confidence as we continue to exercise fiscal prudence into FY 2010.

Signature of Mark J. Olechowski.

Mark J. Olechowski
Acting Chief Financial Officer
November 5, 2009

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