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Archived updates for Tuesday, June 28, 2005

GAO Report Addresses Human Capital Challenges at USPTO

According to a June 2005 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the USPTO has made greater progress in implementing its Strategic Plan’s initiatives to improve the patent organization’s capability than it has in implementing initiatives to improve its productivity and agility:

While USPTO has undertaken a number of important and necessary actions to
attract and retain qualified patent examiners, the agency continues to face
three long-standing human capital challenges that could also undermine its
recent efforts if not addressed.

  • First, the agency lacks effective mechanisms for helping managers to communicate and collaborate with examiners.
  • Second, human capital models suggest that agencies should periodically assess their monetary awards systems to ensure that they help attract and retain qualified staff.
  • Finally, counter to current workforce models, USPTO does not require ongoing technical education for patent examiners, which could negatively affect the quality of its patent examination workforce.
The report concludes that "unless USPTO begins the process of developing an open, transparent, and collaborative work environment, its efforts to hire and retain examiners may be negatively impacted in the long run."
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