By: Robert R. Sachs
By now, we've all heard of the controversy regarding the lax oversight at the USPTO of examiners in the Office's Telework Program–what I'll unofficially dub as "Telegate." Now, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee just announced an investigation into the abuses of the program.
In brief, at the request of the Inspector General, the Office conducted an internal investigation into four allegations: 1) time fraud by examiners, 2) "end loading" of work (waiting until the end of a production period, and then cramming), 3) mortgaging of work (recording work as complete in one production period, and then completing it in a later production period), and 4) improper quality control. The task force that conducted the investigation produced a 32-page report that detailed numerous abuses of the system by examiners, and attempts by managers to correct these abuses that were met with procedural roadblocks, resulting in slap-on-the-wrist penalties. But instead of providing this report to the IG, the Office created a watered-down 16-page version that stated that the investigators were unable to find objective evidence of fraud and abuse, a finding contrary to the facts set forth in the original report.