Site Visit Report
Patent and Trademark Office
Monday, May 17th

PTO representatives: Jim Lynch, Cathy Kern, Frances Michalkewicz, Valerie Richardson

NPR representatives: John Kamensky, Betsy Currie

Establishing a balanced set of measures

  • PTO has been balancing its set of measures since August 1996.
  • They consider it a mature process.
  • They started work on their performance measurement system very early after GPRA was passed. They were a part of the 1994, 1995 and 1996 GPRA Pilot Project (performance plans and performance reports).
  • They have been "counting widgets", e.g., patents issued and trademarks registered, time, etc., for a long time, so the measuring part is natural to them.
  • Senior officials, staff managers, line managers from throughout PTO, and customers were involved in establishing their set of measures. Employees from all levels were involved – from SES down to GS-9. This allowed for buy-in from all parts of the organization.
  • There was not a deliberate attempt to balance their sets of measures.
  • Involvement of customers has become increasingly important to PTO. They have public hearings, advance notice of public rulemaking, and the Commissioner had an open meeting on PTO legislation in January 1999 with self-nominated guests. Customer outreach is much more routinized now than it was in the past. They are striving to link customer outreach to the PTO examiners’ education. Recently conducted a Stakeholder session with key customers to begin developing end results-oriented performance goals and measures.
  • PTO used benchmarking to identify its current set of measures and annual GPRA implementation activities have also helped form its current set of measures.
  • PTO uses the following major categories of measures: financial, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, innovation/improvement, productivity, internal process, cost/unit, and strategic direction (policy).
  • PTO strove to keep the measures limited to the vital few.
  • Measures and targets are reviewed as a part of the corporate planning process. Those that no longer reflect performance as defined by external/internal commitments are altered or deleted. Those that should be elevated to achieve higher levels of performance are adjusted.
  • Their measures have quantitative targets which were set by senior officials, staff managers, and line managers.
  • They used employee feedback to establish their employee satisfaction measures.
  • Currently, the PTO is in the process of proposing the incorporation of the discussion and relationship of the PTO mission, vision, goal and performance measurement as a part of its new employee orientation. By including this information in new employee orientation, every new employee hired is equipped to go into his or her organization fully aware of their role in helping to achieve the PTO mission/vision, as well as their role in their individual business areas. For the employees already on board, the Work Force Effectiveness Division of the Office of Human Resources is working on a proposal to devise a training program that will communicate this information to all employees.
  • They also link feedback to future organizational improvement opportunities through the strategic planning process.
  • PTO’s employee related measures are not linked to all of our employee’s development plans at this time; however we do link production related goals down to the PAPs.
  • PTO has extensive customer outreach. It uses surveys, focus groups, town hall meetings, roundtable discussions, partnership meetings, conferences, open houses, interviews, and speeches with Q&A periods to determine how their services affect its customers and to determine its customers’ needs.
  • PTO distributes its annual report to its customers – to over 5,000 customers. It is also available on the Internet. In addition, PTO’s Corporate/Annual Performance Plans are on the Internet.
  • The following are their websites: and
  • Key enablers which make PTO’s process successful include:
  • Including the measures as part of the corporate planning process
  • Management’s emphasis on quality
  • Having the measures be a part of the annual execution – in distribution of resources

Measuring Performance Data – Collection and Reporting

  • Measures are reported to approximately 100 managers on a monthly basis, and are used for decision making; such as where to focus resources and in the development of hiring plans, procurement plans, and annual performance plans.
  • PTO has two automated data collection and reporting systems –
    • PALM: Patent Application Locator and Monitoring
    • TRAM: Trademark Application Monitoring

Next Steps

  • PTO is well poised to fully implement the use of its set of measures. There is a well-established set of measures. Its challenge now is to communicate this performance measurement system throughout the organization and obtain buy-in from all the employees. They have to start a culture change.

Lessons Learned

  • The importance of communication downward throughout the organization
  • Persistence is required to move past "widget counting." PTO encountered significant difficulty with developing intermediate outcome measures that lead to end results due to the fact that some senior managers were uncomfortable with committing to end-outcome oriented measures. The lesson learned in moving from intermediate outcomes to end results is that this process has to be done carefully and is very dependent upon appropriate timing and acceptance. This process can, and may, take several years.
  • Communication was not as effective as it might have been in the initial stages of metric development. Initially, senior managers developed measures and they did not drill down the targets and significance of the measures selected. This led to a slight disconnect during the development of business strategic plans which were developed by a different group of individuals. Basically, communication of the measures and how they relate to business results is key for success.
  • PTO has two years experience reporting the measures in its Corporate Plan and requiring that they be addressed with all proposed initiatives for funding. At this time, PTO plans to revisit the measures to make sure that they are useful to managers and are portraying the appropriate picture of performance. Adjustments, if any, will be made in the fiscal year 2001 Corporate Plan.

Best Practices

  • PTO has made an effort to more closely link the performance data to the individual employee and this has made employees more reactive, giving them something specific upon which to react.

PTO benchmarked with the Mobil Oil Corporation and other public and private organizations.

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