USPTO weighs options for work at home

FedBizOpps solicitation: PC Blades Technology

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U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officials, who expect to hire about 900 new people as patent examiners this year, are analyzing their office space options, which include expanding the agency’s work-at-home program.

About 175, or 65 percent of USPTO's eligible trademark attorneys, work at home.

USPTO’s chief information officer has notified vendors of the agency’s interest in PC blade technology as agency officials weigh the security risks of expanding the work-at-home program. “Knowing about technology like this will help the decision-making process if we move forward on expanding the program,” said Brigid Quinn, a spokeswoman for the agency.

PC blade technology replaces the PC on an employee’s desk with a small box for connecting the PC’s keyboard, mouse and monitor and optional attachments. The PC itself is a thin processor and memory board positioned vertically in a cage and mounted on a rack with other PC “blades” in a secure data center.

USPTO is interested in PC blade technology that supports two-way IP-based voice and data communications, according to the agency’s July 6 notice on the General Services Administration’s Federal Business Opportunities Web site.

USPTO officials planned the agency’s 2.4 million-square-foot new headquarters complex in Alexandria, Va., 10 years ago and now find that it is not big enough. They have already had to lease additional office space near the five-building complex into which more than 7,000 employees and contractors finished their move this month.

Growth in patent applications in the past 10 years has been greater than anticipated, and reviewing them is a labor-intensive process, Quinn said, adding that “the government budget process does not allow you to build a building in anticipation of what might come down the road.”

“We’re hiring about 900 patent examiners this year,” Quinn said. “In fiscal year 2006, we’re anticipating having the resources to hire an additional 900, give or take.”

“I don’t know what the net gain is,” Quinn said, noting that those hiring figures include new as well as replacement hires for people who leave the agency.

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