USPTO CFO: The job's challenge makes it fun

Thursday - 2/17/2011, 11:08am EST

Anthony Scardino, CFO, USPTO

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Anthony Scardino, CFO of the Patent and Trademark Office, loves his job. Especially now.

Despite what some people might think of accounting, Scardino told Federal News Radio at AGA's National Leadership Conference, it's exciting.

"Well, to be honest with you? It's a challenging time, so I think that's what makes it fun. In other words, if everything was going great, you wouldn't need us almost. We would just literally be handing out money. That's not what we're doing today." Now, said Scardino, everybody's looking to eliminate or reduce inefficient spending and make sure that you get the performance you're paying for.

Adding to the excitement of Scardino's job, the PTO's funding, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

"Congress sets the level of what we can actually spend," said Scardino. "So we're not appropriated in the sense of taxpayer dollars, but Congress says 'PTO, you can spend $2 billion dollars this year.' We may collect $2.3 billion dollars in fees. So that's really our challenge is trying to operate like a business when we don't have the authority to actually set our own fees and use our own money."

Add that to the big changes coming to PTO with the announced "Three-Track" program.

"It's going to happen very quickly. Within the next 12 months, that's going to happen. There are certain portions of it, what we call 'Track One', which means, yes, if you're willing to pay extra, we will actually process your application in a year, which is much better than the three years (it currently takes to process a patent application.) You're going to pay for it, but the challenge there is to not do it in such a manner our backlog continues to grow for folks that aren't paying for the fast track."

Additional concerns facing PTO, said Scardino, are shared across government.

"We all know we're going to get cut" in the current continuing resolution process in Congress, said Scardino. "All agencies are going to get cut. So how are you going to do it half-way through the year?" Meaning, all agencies will be challenged with finding ways to cut spending nearly five months into the the fiscal year.

For more from this event, see Federal News Radio's AGA's National Leadership Conference page.