Oversight Committee Presses Administration on Employee Fraud at Patent Office

Published: Aug 20, 2014

Issa seeks answers on reports of massive telework abuse

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today requested documents and information from Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on recent charges of telework abuses at the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO). Reportedly, patent officers and paralegals routinely lied about their work and logged thousands of hours on the taxpayer’s dime. Raising questions about USPTO’s internal investigation, the USPTO also removed the most damaging reports of employee fraud in a report to the agency’s independent watchdog.

 “The Post’s report comes at a time when examiners are apparently falling behind on one of the core functions of the agency,” wrote Chairman Issa. “The USPTO reportedly has a backlog of patent applications of over 600,000 and an approximate wait time of more than five years. Despite patent examiners generally receiving salary at the top of the federal pay scale – some making $148,000 a year – it appears the telework program is not serving its intended purpose to produce more efficiency. The waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement described by the Post is unacceptable.”

Read the letter from Issa to Pritzker here.