The Business of Government Hour


About the show

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The executives discuss their careers and the management challenges facing their organizations. Past government executives include Administrators, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Commissioners, Controllers, Directors, and Undersecretaries.

The interviews

Join the IBM Center for a weekly conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business.

Clarence Crawford interview

Friday, February 1st, 2002 - 20:00
Clarence Crawford
Radio show date: 
Sat, 02/02/2002
Intro text: 
Financial Management...

Financial Management

Complete transcript: 

Arlington, Virginia

DECEMBER 6, 2001

MR. LAWRENCE: Welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the co-chair of The Endowment for The Business of Government. We created the endowment in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. Find out more about the endowment by visiting us on the web at

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our conversation today is with Clarence Crawford, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer of the Patent and Trademark Office. Good morning, Clarence.

MR. CRAWFORD: Good morning.

MR. LAWRENCE: And joining us in our conversation is another PWC partner, Steve Watson. Good morning, Steve.

MR. WATSON: Good morning, Mr. Crawford. Thanks for joining us.

MR. CRAWFORD: Thank you.

MR. LAWRENCE: Well, Clarence, perhaps you could begin by telling us about the Patent and Trademark Office or PTO as I understand it's referred to, and perhaps tell us about its mission and its activities.

MR. CRAWFORD: Well, we are a $1 billion fee funded agency. Our mission is to promote the intellectual property rights in the United States, to strengthen the economy. We essentially have two major lines of business; one is a policy role, where we provide advice to the Secretary of Commerce and to the President on intellectual property rights and protections. We also have a secondary role, which is a very large role, and we are, in effect, a factory.

We issue patents and trademarks. We issue hundreds of thousands of patents and trademarks each year. We play a critical role in the economy. If you listen to the Federal Reserve, they will argue that much of the economic boom of the '90's was driven by technological innovation.

Well, this is what we do; we issue protected technological innovations. And if you continue to listen to the Federal Reserve, you will hear them also state that that same technological innovation will probably help bring the country out of the current economic slow down.

The PTO is an exciting place. We think of ourselves as being like a business, not a business, we are a federal agency, we still have to adhere to federal rules, we are part of the executive branch, we receive an appropriation, although we're fee funded. But our mission is a very important one, but in some ways it's a very easy one and it lends itself to being business-like. We produce things at the end of the day. It's pretty easy to figure out whether we've been successful. Do we issue a patent or do we issue a trademark? Those are pretty easy to measure.

The kinds of employees that we have, we're about 6,300 employees. Most of our employees are in the patent organization, they are engineers and scientists. We recruit, just like the private sector, for the very best people we can find. On the trademark side, we have trademark attorneys.

Again, the competition is very steep. Intellectual property is a very hot area. We've had to be very, very creative in our recruitment and retention strategies. In addition, we have other lawyers and our general counsel's organization. We have a sizeable information technology organization, you have my organization, made up of administrative people and financial people, and we also have technical people. We have a number of support staff, and we have a good number of contractors. We have seen a change and we anticipate a change in the way we'll do business. We'll become more digital in the future. So we've made a conscious decision to hire more of our technical support staff under contract as opposed to career government employees in anticipation of changes in the work force.

MR. WATSON: Clarence, what are your responsibilities as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer; what skill sets does this position require?

MR. CRAWFORD: I'm a pretty simplistic guy, so I've had to distill it to something that I can understand and remember. One of my chief responsibilities is to create and grow value. Not unlike CFO's in the private sector, my goal is to help the organization improve the quality of their products and services and to do it at the lowest possible cost. My responsibilities include financial management.

We have a great organization. We have received clean opinions in our financial management area for the past eight years. We merged our strategic planning and budgeting shop several years ago, so we have an integrated planning and budgeting shops already in place. We've been recognized as being one of the better ones in the Federal Government.

Our procurement shop is considered a leader in federal procurement. We're about to start a pilot, looking at reverse auctioneering. Our human resources shop, we've made a number of changes there. They were very successful in helping the patent organization achieve a 10 percent special pay rate, one of the few in the Federal Government. We've made a number of changes and improvements. Our civil rights organization, when you look at the Patent and Trademark Office, we're probably one of the most diverse employers in the entire country.

In our administrative services area, we move thousands of files a day. Some files are just a couple of pages; some files can be boxes of pages. Space acquisition, we're going to be moving to Carlisle. We are in the final stages of the planning. We hope to go to closing within the next 30 days. When that happens, and when we construct the complex, we will be the fourth largest federal complex. We'll be over two million square feet; we'll be in five buildings. This will be a great improvement over where we are today. We're in Crystal City; we're in 18 buildings on 118 separate floors. So managing it and managing the process, it's a little bit of a challenge when you're so spread out.

I also have security. Had we had this interview in August, I would have just mentioned security and moved right along. We've made a number of improvements there. We have worked hard and we've reduced the numbers of crimes against our property, theft of property, we've cut that about 47 percent in a year. But I think probably one of the more interesting and challenging aspects in this area is in the wake of 9-11. We are the largest recipients of express mail in the world. Our express mail comes through the Brentwood facility. We receive 10 of those mail carts a day. That's about 7 to 8,000 pieces of mail a day.

We had an anthrax scare, since we're downstream from Brentwood. We had to bring in a contractor to test the environment. One of the things that we did very well, I'm not sure exactly how we figured it out, maybe just being very fortunate, we communicated and told everyone everything. So we ended up bringing in a firm. They came in their spacesuits, and we did our testing, tested the air filtration systems and the like.

Then we got a call back and said that three of the samples were suspicious, so we went out and told the employees everything, put it all out for them. Working with the CDC, we concluded and found that we didn't have anthrax. It was a great lesson.

We have beefed up our security in the organization, but nothing will be probably as it was. Since about the middle of October, we receive very little mail through Brentwood, so we've had to come up with an alternative mailing process, but for us, that's about six weeks of mail. The mail not only includes applications, the mail also includes sometimes checks. And since we have what is called an offsetting appropriation, we're fee funded, the money is appropriated back to us. In order to spend the money, we have to collect the money, so we are watching this very carefully as we go.

I think in terms of the skills, I think having a good understanding of the business, having a good mix of financial and administrative skills and experiences, I think the leadership is very critical; the interpersonal skills are very critical.

When I spoke before about my role in helping grow value, I don't own the patent process, I don't own the trademark process, I don't own the CIO's activities. So much of what I have to do is by way of encouragement and working with my colleagues to make improvements.

Sometimes, as anyone in this business knows, you also sometimes need to have a little thick skin, as well.

MR. LAWRENCE: It's time for a break. Come back with us after the break as we continue our conversation with Clarence Crawford of PTO. In the next segment, we'll ask about the new technology PTO is using. This is The Business of Government Hour. (Intermission)

MR. LAWRENCE: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, and today's conversation is with Clarence Crawford, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer of the Patent and Trademark Office. Joining us in our conversation is another PWC partner, Steve Watson.

MR. WATSON: Mr. Crawford, in your last segment, you discussed your responsibilities, a wide ranging set of responsibilities. Can you tell us a little bit about your career and the positions you've held that prepared you to handle that diverse set of responsibilities?

MR. CRAWFORD: Sure. I started out as a police cadet and police officer in the District of Columbia. And I went to school at night as a police officer and earned my bachelor's and graduate degree. My graduate degree has a concentration in financial management. I had decided I wanted to be the chief of police in the District, and then realized, no, I want to go to something else.

I decided then I wanted to be a city manager and decided, well, I'm going to have to leave the police department to do that.

One day I happened to be at school, and I saw an announcement for the Presidential Management Intern program. I didn't know what it was. I figured, well, I'll apply, but I cannot imagine that the Federal Government would have anything of any interest to me, and maybe I'll go do it for two or three years if I'm selected and I'll go back into city management.

Well, that was in 1979, and I've been with the Federal Government ever since. I went over to the Internal Revenue Service and as a presidential management intern, and everyone thought with my background, I would end up either in the criminal investigation division or in the budget or finance arena. And what I ended up doing was going to Atlanta, moving the family to Atlanta, to be a labor relations specialist for about two or three years in Atlanta. Came back to Washington as a planning officer in Strategic Planning, went over to the research division where we did quantitative research on tax compliance, had a wonderful time there, a budget officer for IRS's headquarters budget, director of planning and project management, the tax systems modernization. I had responsibility for developing the project management system, doing the planning, and the budgeting.

I went over to the General Accounting Office, into their SES candidate development program. And I concluded, well, I'd probably end up auditing the IRS, I would be in law enforcement, I would do something maybe in financial management.

My first assignment out of the SES candidate program was to be the associate director for education and employment. So I'm looking at K through 12, student loans, job training programs. And my first day on the job in that area, I testified before the Congress on gender equity issues. So I arrived on a Monday, I testified as GO's lead witness before the congress on Tuesday on gender equity.

I had a wonderful time there. We did a lot of work for the appropriations committee, so I learned a lot about appropriations, did a lot of testifying before the committees, especially on the senate side. And from there, I was asked to go to the National Security and International Affairs Division as one of the deputy directors there. I had no background in this area either. We were changing our job processes, our audit processes. I'm very happy about what we did. We significantly improved the timeliness of our products. We reduced the cycle time and the cost of those products. We earned the highest quality score ever given for an assignment. We increased our usefulness to the Congress.

I decided I wanted to return to the executive branch. I wanted to get back into the executive branch. So I applied for and was selected for the associate director for administration position in the Office of Management and Budget in the White House.

There I learned an incredible amount. I had never worked at OMB before. This gave me some insight then to understand how OMB interacts with the agencies, how OMB supports the President, how OMB works with the domestic policy counsels. So it gave me, again, another piece of -- especially on the financial and administrative side, of how government gets done.

I had seen it on the Congressional side, working with the members and the chairs, but now having an opportunity to see it at OMB and see how it happens in the executive office of the President. And in November of '99, I was very fortunate to be selected as the CFO CAO for the Patent and Trademark Office. I was very interested in the organization. I wanted to go some place that wasn't so large that you -- some places are just so large that driving change is almost overwhelming. Patent and Trademark Office is big, but it's not too big. The mission is easily understood. They're great people. And most importantly, everything I had read about them and understood about them, this organization was committed to improvement and to quality and willing to try new things.

MR. LAWRENCE: In our last segment, you talked about the technology that's being used at PTO, and I had done some research in preparation for the interview and learned about a large acquisition to supply PTO with desk top, lap tops, and hand held computers; could you tell us about this project and its goals?

MR. CRAWFORD: We call it the smart contract. It's a contract to replace our desktop hardware. I think the real story is not the numbers of PC's that we're buying or the hand held. The real story is the story behind the story, the why.

We recognize that technology is going to be an increasingly important part of how we do business, whether it is processing applications or whether it's needed as part of our recruitment and retention strategy for top-flight talent. The PTO has made a number of key investments over the years. We have greatly improved our automated search systems. We have issued six million patents. Part of the process of determining whether an invention is patentable is, you have to look at all of the prior patents, you have to search those, you have to search what we call non-patent literature, other literature where innovation may be referenced. You also have to search foreign literature.

Well, with our search systems, it has allowed us, in part, to keep pace with the massive growth that we have seen over the past few years. It also provides us with some other benefits. We're now far enough along that we're now getting within two or three years of rolling out the next generation of technology. And this will allow us to better manage our files.

Right now, we have paper files. We have paper files that are, if you go to some of our rooms, that are probably 12 to 15 feet high. We have a warehouse full. It's overwhelming to see the amount of paper that's in our active files.

Well, if you have paper, sometimes things get lost; if you have paper and it's actively being examined. As I said, we're in 18 buildings on 118 floors, so if an applicant needs to send an amendment, just the logistics, I was trying to figure out where, in Crystal City, or maybe in one of our storage facilities, so that we can associate that amendment with the actual application. We've already done some studies and we believe that we're going to be able to bring down our cost of operations and handling paper.

And again, the paper handling is one of the areas where, over the years, the organization made some wise decisions, and that would be to hire contractors versus career employees and recognize that within a few years, hopefully much of the paper handling will go away.

It also serves as a recruitment and retention tool for us. The technology gives us an ability to attract and retain top talent. When you're in the schools or in the private sector trying to bring in electrical engineers or computer scientists, they expect to have not necessarily state-of-the-art, but clearly, very useful tools to do their jobs.

As we move to more of a digital environment, people will need to be able to have systems that allow them to examine and analyze applications on a computer screen versus paper. I don't think we'll ever get rid of all paper, but I think our ability to receive applications to process and manage that we'll be able to do electronically. This is, again, part of our strategy of sort of an electronic, more of our electronic environment. We are the first intellectual property organization in the world to receive both patent and trademark applications over the Internet.

An applicant can file anywhere in the world an application with us. You can come online and you can check the status of your application. You can pay any fees. You can go, for example, and research issued patents back to 1790 over the internet.

We envision down the road, we have a work at home program that has been very successful. With the work at home program, we have been able to hold onto a number of our employees that probably would have gone otherwise. And I think down the road you're going to see work at home will increasingly mean working outside of Washington/Metropolitan area.

MR. LAWRENCE: That's a good stopping point because it's time for a break. Rejoin us after the break as we continue our discussion with Clarence Crawford of PTO. This is The Business of Government Hour. (Intermission)

MR. LAWRENCE: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, and today's conversation is with Clarence Crawford, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer of the Patent and Trademark Office. Joining us in our discussion is another PWC partner, Steve Watson.

MR. WATSON: Mr. Crawford, before the break, you were talking about the extent of the PTO's business that you've moved online. What are the security and privacy concerns that the government faces in the future as more services are conducted online, and what steps are you taking to address these concerns?

MR. CRAWFORD: I think that what is very evident is that the internet has changed the way we will do business. I think also, 9-11 will have changed that, as well. I foresee an increased reliance upon technology to do business.

One of the challenges that we're working on, and from a security standpoint is, like the private sector, we take payments electronically, so we've had to make sure that our systems are secure, that when someone gives us a credit card or pays by credit card online, that those transactions will be safe and secure.

In terms of our basic infrastructure, we have intrusion testing. We've enhanced our firewalls; we will continue to do that. We just see that this is the right thing to do. And being online gives us also a capability to communicate with our employees differently. In the trademark organization, for example, we have 100 employees who work at home. They're much further along than the patent organization. We're implementing a hoteling pilot this fall, where the employees will only come into the office one day a week; they will work at home over the internet.

At home, we are beginning to realize into the future could be any place in the world, so we've got to have secure ways to communicate with our employees so that they can access our data bases, examine applications, and then transmit that information safely either back to the Patent and Trademark Office or in their communications ultimately with our customers.

MR. WATSON: We know that many Federal Government agencies anticipate a critical need to modernize their financial systems in the next few years. What kinds of technology does the Patent and Trademark Office use to manage its financial operations?

MR. CRAWFORD: I'm very fortunate to be here at the Patent and Trademark Office. We have a strong history of excellence in financial management. We have had clean opinions for the past eight years. The last three years, we haven't even gotten any management letters or anything in that area. We have a modern system and we're upgrading. We are currently on the FFS system, and we're in the process of migrating to Momentum. What Momentum will give us is easier access and easier queries. It's a web-based application. It will facilitate not only people working at the Patent and Trademark Office, but people also potentially on the road, our employees on the road.

We also have implemented activity based costing, that's very important to us. It's an integral part of how we do business. We're required by statute to keep separate trademark fees from patent fees. So it is a process that we use to make sure that we do not spend trademark related funds on patent or non-trademark related activities.

We also use the ABC system to give us data as we're putting together our budgets and for the future year budgets, also when we're putting together our financial plans and managing our financial plans. We look at sort of the allocation of funding. Are we still consistent with what we need to do to ensure the separation of trademark fees from patent fees?

We're also looking more closely to make sure that the fees that we are charging actually cover the costs of the patent and trademark operation. So we have a culture that has used financial systems, we have modern systems, we're upgrading them, and we're now at the point, we're not perfect, but we're now at the point that we have the basic infrastructure in place, we're now beginning to learn how you actually use it to support executive decision-making, how to use it to make resource allocation decisions, how to use that as we get ready to plan a new activity to see whether there's historical costing data.

We have a data warehouse where we our managers, we probably have about 300 users. A good chunk of those users are first line supervisors in the patent and trademark organizations, where they're going in to get financial and program data for their own units, tailoring the reports in a way that makes sense to them.

So we're beginning to understand how to use it. We're not there quite fully, but we are making, I think, the right steps. And, again, we have a culture that values this information and the use of the information.

MR. LAWRENCE: The Patent and Trademark Office was, I believe, the second Federal Government agency to become a performance based organization or a PBO. What managerial flexibilities do you have as a result of being a PBO?

MR. CRAWFORD: I think the first thing I'd like to mention is the notion of the PTO becoming a PBO. I think the most important thing is that making a transition, while it has been challenging, was a logical next step for the PTO. For years our employees have been on performance standards for goal, for quality and production. That makes it easier for us with our work place flexibilities. People can come in as early as 5:00 in the morning, stay as late as 10:00 at night, work the weekends, because we generally know how much work a person does.

We also, because we're sort of business-like, we have a mission, it's pretty clear, you either issue a patent or a trademark or you don't. We have the financial systems in place.

What the performance-based legislation has allowed us to do is to take the next step on the performance arena. The patent commissioner and the trademark commissioner have signed performance plans with the Secretary of Commerce.

And what we have been working on is, in taking those performance plans and commitments and cascading those first through the executive core to the managers and then linking those to the employees, we're not to the employee level necessarily quite yet because we're highly unionized, so there are a lot of issues about negotiations. In terms of the management flexibilities, we have control of our human resources program. We have a very good relationship with the Department of Commerce, and we have a very supportive relationship. While we have the flexibilities, we generally keep them informed of everything that we're doing, but we can control our human resources, we can make our own selections for executives, we can resolve union agreements without having to go to the Commerce Department, we're able to prepare and submit our budgets directly to the Office of Management and Budget.

But again, we work with the Commerce Department in keeping them advised and working with the Secretary and deputy secretary. We have flexibility in the procurement arena. We're going to put some new regulations out soon that gives us some additional flexibility.

We now have a full service legal shop, so we now have our own general counsel. I think one of the other things that we've had, which has been very good, is we now have the public advisory committees, we have one for patents and one for trademarks, and they are our advisors.

We've now engaged them in our budget formulation process. They also take a look at proposed regulations. So it has been good. These are people from the private sector who have some private sector experience with patents and trademarks, but also some business or academic experience, as well.

MR. LAWRENCE: PTO has developed a balanced scorecard performance measurement system, I think you hinted at this a little bit in your last answer; could you tell us about that?

MR. CRAWFORD: On a quarterly basis, each business unit in the executive committee makes a report on the balance scorecard. If you look at patents and trademarks, the kinds of things that are on there, everyone has a financial management component, but then when you look at the patents and trademarks, essentially they have two major goals, improve the quality of the products and services, improve the timeliness.

So there are a number of measures that patents and trademarks use to report on how well they're doing in terms of overall, how long it takes to get a patent or a trademark, how long it takes to get to what we call a first office action, which is important for people that are applying for applications.

We look at quality. We have our own in-house quality review activity. We also look at customer service. We regularly survey our customers. We take that data and we look at what our customers are telling us. And as the customers point out problems, we then try to address those problems in our operations. We look at employee satisfaction. And for most of the organization, especially in the two business units, they actually use that data as they are preparing performance appraisals for their senior executives and for their managers, so it actually gets used.

MR. LAWRENCE: Well, that's a good stopping point. It's time for a break. Come back with us after the break as we continue our conversation with Clarence Crawford of the PTO. This is The Business of Government Hour. (Intermission)

MR. LAWRENCE: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, and today's conversation is with Clarence Crawford, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer of the Patent and Trademark Office.

Joining us in the discussion is another PWC partner, Steve Watson.

MR. WATSON: Clarence, we hear a lot about the coming government retirement wave and the expected impact on federal agencies. What kinds of challenges will this present to PTO and what solutions are you considering?

MR. CRAWFORD: I think in some ways, our challenge is perhaps a little different than many other federal agencies. By comparison, our executive cadre is younger than the federal average. Our managers, many of our managers are younger than the federal average. And when you get into our workers, especially in the patent and trademark organizations, they are much younger than the federal average.

We have about 70 percent of the PTO employees are in the FIRS retirement system. And when you look at the patent and trademark examination corps., you're probably looking at 80 to 90 percent are in FIRS.

Now, what that does for us is, it makes things a little different. Because these are highly skilled people and they're highly sought after in intellectual property environment, we're far more sensitive to changes in the economy. When the economy was going very well, we compete directly for the private sector, and because these people have pension portability. I think FIRS is probably one of the most effective programs ever implemented by the Federal Government, for it wanted to give people pension portability, wanted to reduce retirement costs, done both. We're now living with that. So we now have to, in terms of our strategies, have strategies that come close to matching salaries. We will not match the kinds of salaries that our employees can draw from the private sector.

So we've implemented a number of workplace flexibilities. If we can't match the dollars, can we match the flexibilities? I think we probably have one of the most flexible workplaces in the Federal Government, where people can take mid-day flex.

I've often said that I want to go to the movies at mid-day, I've yet to do that, hopefully at some point I will. But people can mid-day flex, you can start early, you can stay late, you can work on the weekends.

We have attractive incentive pay packages for sustained performance, quality, and production. We're very fortunate working with the Office of Personnel Management in achieving a special pay rate for patent examiners. It's a 10 percent pay rate for patent examiners. Which along with perhaps a slowing economy, we've seen a dramatic reduction in our attrition. We went from double digits to around 5or 6 percent. In the trademark area with the work at home, we've yet to see any of the employees who work at home leave. We have training programs and graduate education to help keep our skills of our employees current. I think the challenges we're looking at in the future as we try to do more mid-career hiring; the federal system is not very good for mid-career people.

If you've worked for 10 or 15 years in a private sector, you come to the Federal Government and you get four hours of annual leave and four hours of sick leave a pay period, these people probably had two or three weeks of annual leave. So we want to look at how can we change the system to do that, how can we let them roll over, for example, their pension, their 401K's into the TSP system, those kinds of things, to make it more attractive, and maybe even look at using TSP down the road as a vehicle for encouraging people to pay, stay long, we'd allow them to make larger contributions to TSP.

MR. LAWRENCE: What kind of advice would you give to young persons who's interested in joining PTO?

MR. CRAWFORD: I think this is an exciting place. I think that it's exciting on a number of levels. I've had the opportunity to talk with patent examiners and trademark attorneys and have them tell me that, did you see that particular logo, I registered that trademark, or I've had some tell me that, with some of the latest innovations, let's say in medical science, that they issued that patent.

The other thing that's exciting about the Patent and Trademark Office as an employee, once you're fully trained, you can issue a patent or register a trademark on your own signature. You do this on behalf of the federal government. There is no supervisory review. So you have a lot of flexibility, you have a lot of responsibility. It is, at times, a pretty challenging job, but it's also pretty rewarding.

The environment is great. We're going to move to a new facility in a couple of years. We're going to have a nice atrium. My private sector colleagues tell me I need to have a climbing wall so people can climb the walls. Maybe this will be for someone else.

But again, the flexibilities, the opportunity to see some of the new inventions and new trademarks that are coming along, the opportunities to meet some of the inventors or the proponents of the different trademarks, and it's a good place. It's not too big, it's innovative, and we do try to have fun.

MR. LAWRENCE: What type of skills would such a person need? It sounds from your description of many of the highly technical occupations at PTO, they would need advanced degrees in law and engineering and the like; is that absolutely true or are there less specialized positions?

MR. CRAWFORD: Well, I think if you wanted to be a patent examiner, then you will need an engineering degree or a science degree. And I think that in the future, more of our work is going to be electrical and computer related. So I think having those skills make you very, very competitive. Graduate training is fine, but we also provide some of that and will help you with that, as well.

On the trademark side, we're looking for trademark attorneys, people who have actually passed the bar. But there are a number of other great opportunities. People in my organization are generally not engineers or lawyers. These are people who may be accountants, or computer scientists, program analysts. It is just a very, very good place. It is a growth place. It is growing in importance and in stature, I think, for the federal government, but I think also for the country, it's a fun place.

MR. LAWRENCE: Pull out your crystal ball and look into the future. How do you think PTO might evolve over the next 10 years; what might it look like?

MR. CRAWFORD: I think, if you look closely today, you begin to see the initial indications of the way PTO will be. I think on the international front, all of the patent and trademark organizations around the world are having the same problem we have, growing workload, difficulty in recruiting and retaining highly skilled employees.

Right now, there is a considerable redundancy. We examine a patent and we issue property rights for the U.S. The U.S. company wants to do business overseas, then it must file again overseas. I would imagine over the next 10 years there will probably be more harmonization where either there's some type of reciprocity or recognition of an intellectual property right that's granted here, for example.

I don't envision a paperless organization, but I think you'll see one that is far more digital than we are today, which will give our employees considerable flexibility.

I think we will always have a core complex, but I think over the future, to meet some of our recruitment needs and quality of life needs, it is not inconceivable that we would not have a good chunk of our employees working essentially any place. Right now, two career families, one leaves the area, the other one has to quit. We're now starting to look, especially in the trademark organization, of the possibility of letting that spouse actually travel and remain an employee.

So I think it's going to be very, very interesting. I think you're going to see an explosion continue on the electrical and the computer related, and I think you're going to see a greater recognition of the value of intellectual property as underpinning the continued health and growth of the American economy.

MR. LAWRENCE: As you've described the type of people who do this work, are highly educated, as you describe the type of work, it sounds very complex. I'm just sort of curious from just a simple management kind of perspective, how challenging is it to manage these complex issues with highly educated people?

MR. CRAWFORD: Hopefully, our people won't be listening. What this requires you to do is to think and be creative, for we have extraordinarily talented and capable employees across the board, whether you look in my shop or you look in the patents or trademarks in the CIO. So what it requires and what it does is, it pushes us, it pushes us to think, they challenge our conventional wisdom about this or that. So I think it helps keep the organization alive and very vibrant. But it is intellectually challenging, for they can come up with things you just could hardly imagine.

MR. LAWRENCE: Well, that's a good stopping point. Clarence, I'm afraid we're out of time. Steve and I want to thank you for joining us this morning.

MR. CRAWFORD: Thank you very much. This was a pleasure I enjoyed it greatly.

MR. LAWRENCE: And if anyone is interested in PTO's or a website they can go to to learn more?

MR. CRAWFORD: Yes, you can go to

MR. LAWRENCE: Thanks a lot. This has been The Business of Government Hour featuring a conversation with Clarence Crawford, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer of the Patent and Trademark Office. Be sure and visit us on the web at There you can learn more about our programs and research, and you can also get a transcript of today's conversation. Again, that's This is Paul Lawrence. See you next week.

Clarence Crawford interview
Clarence Crawford

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