Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced a joint full committee hearing, “Abuse of USPTO’s Telework Program: Ensuring Oversight, Accountability and Quality.”
The hearing will examine reports of systemic abuses and mismanagement within the employee telework program at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) including apparent efforts by agency officials to conceal wrongdoing. USPTO officials reportedly removed damaging information from an internal report to avoid disclosure of abuses in the telework program, including instances where employees repeatedly lied about work hours and received bonuses for work they did not do. It is alleged that employees responsible for wrongdoing reportedly faced little or no consequences for their actions.
The hearing will also examine USPTO’s response to these reports, as well as what corrective measures USPTO has identified to prevent future incidents. The USPTO telework program has served as a potential model for expanding the use of telework in other federal agencies.
“The benefits of eliminating commutes and offering employees flexible hours are obvious, but there are serious concerns that the Federal government is not able to oversee gross abuses by employees looking to game the system,” said Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa. “This hearing will examine problems in the Patent and Trademark Office’s telework program and what it means for the future of telework initiatives in other agencies.”
“The reports of abuses in the Patent and TrademarkOffice’s telework program are startling and disturbing,” said Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte. “This program has been presented as a new model for federal workforce management but it has unfortunately become a source of concern and controversy. The upcoming hearing will allow our Members to examine what happened and explore ways to ensure that this kind of misuse of government resources does not recur.”
The Committees will announce witnesses once they are confirmed.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Abuse of USPTO’s Telework Program: Ensuring Oversight, Accountability and Quality, Joint Full Judiciary and Oversight Committees
10:00 a.m. in Rayburn 2151 (Judiciary Committee hearing room)
** All hearings will be streamed live at oversight.house.gov **