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Author Topic: TEAPP  (Read 1346 times)

ex-aminer?

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TEAPP
« on: 08-09-17 at 12:35 pm »

Any other examiners worried/curious about the continuation (or hopefully permanence) of the TEAPP pilot?

I'm no expert but understand that it basically waives a requirement for hotellers to physically be at the office at least once a month (once a biweek, so you could come a long weekend between biweeks).  I've been signed up since hotelling for 5-6 years.

My current understanding is that they will likely grandfather in any particants.  I was told however that just in case your TEAPP address should always be updated, the assumption being you'd be "stuck" at that residence if TEAPP was cancelled.

Any sane person knows that physically coming back to the office is completely pointless, however sanity doesn't always dictate the rules.  I think the new quality intiatives as well as the enhanced accountability for hours are attempts to make sure the program stands.

Any insights?

« Last Edit: 08-09-17 at 02:24 pm by ex-aminer? »
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lazyexaminer

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #1 on: 08-09-17 at 01:57 pm »

I have no particular insight. TEAPP is based on a law, and everything is so politicized right now so who knows. As I imagine you know, the law says:

"The authority to conduct test programs under this section shall expire 7 years after the date of the enactment of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010."

and it was enacted in December 2010. So TEAPP itself will end in December. Whether it is continued in some other form, just called something else, who knows. I've never looked into whether a similar program could be justified under some other authority. I have always thought they seemed terrified of having to pay travel expenses for examiners coming back so maybe as long as something legally covers them from that it'll be good. Everyone I've talked to, including managers, thinks it will continue in some form, at least with current people grandfathered. But there are no guarantees.

Whenever we have a survey about it I say that the only reason I am still at the Office is due to full time telework. This is largely true, and I hope most people say similar. I live around 2 hours from Alexandria if traffic is good (i.e. never) and have no desire to go in at all, it is wholly unnecessary for this job. If I am required to commute I will definitely consider doing something else, I'm not moving.

According to the website about 2600 people are in TEAPP. I don't think the Office is prepared for over a thousand people to quit, nor are they prepared to house those people in offices, so it seems reasonable that something will be worked out.

I agree with you that the various initiatives are trying to cover their bases, especially with the IG time report.
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ex-aminer?

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #2 on: 08-09-17 at 02:33 pm »

Just from an outside bureaucratic angle, stopping a 7 year program with 2600 (all relatively advanced) examiners seems unlikely.  Good way to cause a further backlog 😆
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fewyearsin

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #3 on: 08-09-17 at 03:37 pm »

I was unaware and unconcerned with this issue until reading your post.

I left patent prosecution about 6 years ago because of TEAPP.  Many, many, many people are in a similar situation (like you), where we have made this a longer-term career BECAUSE of TEAPP.  I live close enough to a satellite office that if they cancelled the TEAPP program, I would probably get a short-term lease and move back to the office while I found a new job.

As noted above, I think the ability to avoid travel payments is a huge concern. 

Thank you for making me aware of the issue.  Please advise us with any scuttlebut or rumors you hear in the coming months.
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snapshot

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #4 on: 08-09-17 at 05:54 pm »

I just checked my old emails, and it says that for those who are in TEAPP, regardless as to whether the program is extended beyond December 2017, your duty station will not change, so there won't be any end to working wherever you moved to or change in reporting requirements.

What that means for people who are in PHP or not yet hotelers and who might want to move outside the 50 mile radius, I don't know.  But if you're currently in TEAPP, you're safe.

I was unaware and unconcerned with this issue until reading your post.

I left patent prosecution about 6 years ago because of TEAPP.  Many, many, many people are in a similar situation (like you), where we have made this a longer-term career BECAUSE of TEAPP.  I live close enough to a satellite office that if they cancelled the TEAPP program, I would probably get a short-term lease and move back to the office while I found a new job.

As noted above, I think the ability to avoid travel payments is a huge concern. 

Thank you for making me aware of the issue.  Please advise us with any scuttlebut or rumors you hear in the coming months.

Unless the satellite office is where you started, good luck moving to one if you are ever forced back to the office.  They won't even let an Alexandria examiner passing through work in one for a day, let alone let someone just transfer there unless you're needed there for some above examining (management) reason.
« Last Edit: 08-09-17 at 05:59 pm by snapshot »
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bluerogue

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #5 on: 08-10-17 at 12:13 am »

I just checked my old emails, and it says that for those who are in TEAPP, regardless as to whether the program is extended beyond December 2017, your duty station will not change, so there won't be any end to working wherever you moved to or change in reporting requirements.
What that means for people who are in PHP or not yet hotelers and who might want to move outside the 50 mile radius, I don't know.  But if you're currently in TEAPP, you're safe.

Yeah, from what I've heard from a couple POPA reps, they (and supposedly the office) want to get rid of the 50 mile radius program as it makes no sense to have multiple hoteling programs (some of which you can't even get into anymore) after TEAPP expires.  Whether that'll actually happen is anyone's guess.  As far as those who are on TEAPP, nothing should change and you should be able to move if necessary.

Quote
Unless the satellite office is where you started, good luck moving to one if you are ever forced back to the office.  They won't even let an Alexandria examiner passing through work in one for a day, let alone let someone just transfer there unless you're needed there for some above examining (management) reason.

Even if you went on TEAPP from a satellite office, you're now considered part of the Alexandria workforce.  It's mainly because the TEAPP agreement was written before the satellite offices and so specifies VA as your USPTO worksite.  It's actually kind of annoying if you're on TEAPP from a satellite office and want to return.
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rodya

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #6 on: 08-12-17 at 09:43 pm »

I've heard 2 senarios both have in common that when it expires no new applications for TEAPP will be approved

One scenario is that if you are on TEAPP you can keep your TEAPP, no changes to you at all
the other is you'll be subject to reporting requirements like it was before TEAPP

both senarios were posited by popa and management independently

The more interesting rumor is that with the demise of TEAPP the new authorization is looking to do away with the patent examiner supplemental salary bump. Live in alabama get alabama wages
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fewyearsin

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #7 on: 08-13-17 at 01:14 am »

I've heard 2 senarios both have in common that when it expires no new applications for TEAPP will be approved

One scenario is that if you are on TEAPP you can keep your TEAPP, no changes to you at all
the other is you'll be subject to reporting requirements like it was before TEAPP

both senarios were posited by popa and management independently

The more interesting rumor is that with the demise of TEAPP the new authorization is looking to do away with the patent examiner supplemental salary bump. Live in alabama get alabama wages

Scenario 1 is obviously the most desirable (least undesirable, as it changes nothing for those on the program).
Scenario 2 is effectively eliminating hotelling for anyone that moved away from DC/Alexandria.  I can't afford 2 roundtrips and several nights at a hotel in DC each month.

The rumor you've heard, about getting rid of the Examiner Pay Scale, where is that from?  I've never heard that.  The pay scale is supposedly based on the position, not the locale.  TEAPP was not around when the supplement was approved by OPM, so why would the existence of TEAPP (or it's cancellation) affect the supplement?  Asking genuinely, because that would also affect people the purposely moved to lower cost areas.  I left private practice because the 120k I can make as a primary examiner with a couple years experience, in flyover country, is about equivalent to the $180k I was making in private practice in DC. 
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steelie

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #8 on: 08-13-17 at 02:46 am »

The more interesting rumor is that with the demise of TEAPP the new authorization is looking to do away with the patent examiner supplemental salary bump. Live in alabama get alabama wages

There is no supplemental pay.

Right now, examiners get the higher of locality pay or special pay.

Only in the San Jose office is the locality pay higher, so those examiners make slightly more than Alexandria examiners.

Do you mean, they want to do away with the special pay scale ?
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rouleur

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #9 on: 08-13-17 at 10:51 am »

How many of you would consider leaving for the other side if they do not renew TEAPP?

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fewyearsin

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #10 on: 08-13-17 at 03:04 pm »

How many of you would consider leaving for the other side if they do not renew TEAPP?
I consider leaving for the other side about every 6 months regardless  :)  (I am at the PTO for the flexibility which is needed for personal, but hopefully temporary, reasons, and hope to get back to the private side in the next 3-5 years, though the lifestyle is kind of addictive, you know, only having to work 40 hours a week and all).  If TEAPP were not renewed, my options are (1) move back to Virginia to stay with the PTO, or (2) move to private sector firm.  But, if I have to move back to the DC area anyway, I may as well go back to a firm for the higher pay.  That's where I used to work (a couple different DC firms), and have most of my contacts. 

I'd roughly estimate that 1 in 10 examiners that are hotelling would seriously consider leaving, and of those, maybe half would actually go through with it.  Many of the Examiners that hotel are still reasonably close to the Office, so the other telework programs, though not as good, would be enough to keep them in the office.  And many that say they would go back to the private sector wouldn't be able to pull themselves away from the generous time off and work flexibility offered at the PTO.

So, take 2500 hotellers, and say 5% leave, that's 125 examiners the Office would lose.  Which, looking at those numbers, actually isn't too bad for the Office.  They might even use it is a way to reduce their workforce.  Crap.
« Last Edit: 08-13-17 at 03:06 pm by fewyearsin »
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bluerogue

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #11 on: 08-14-17 at 12:08 am »

How many of you would consider leaving for the other side if they do not renew TEAPP?

If you're talking hoteling going away, I would probably have no choice but to leave the office and go back to private practice.  Moving to Alexandria is not an option for me.  Even if it's not renewed, it's not likely that the office will change those on TEAPP to have a reporting requirement.  If you're asking about hotelling going away, that's basically unlikely to happen.  The PTO simply does not have enough office space for that. Also TEAPP expiring does not affect hoteling.  TEAPP only cancels the reporting requirement for a hoteller living more than 50 miles from a PTO office.

 
I'd roughly estimate that 1 in 10 examiners that are hotelling would seriously consider leaving, and of those, maybe half would actually go through with it.  Many of the Examiners that hotel are still reasonably close to the Office, so the other telework programs, though not as good, would be enough to keep them in the office.  And many that say they would go back to the private sector wouldn't be able to pull themselves away from the generous time off and work flexibility offered at the PTO.

I think the number for those on TEAPP is probably around 50% or higher if hoteling (not TEAPP) went away.  If it was just TEAPP that went away and I had to fly to an office every month for a few days per hotelling reporting requirements, I'd probably stay on. The office also doesn't have enough hotelling workstations to handle the influx of folks who would be reporting based on the 50 mile hotelling requirement. 
« Last Edit: 08-14-17 at 12:13 am by bluerogue »
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lazyexaminer

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #12 on: 08-14-17 at 10:33 am »

Yeah there is a little bit of confusion and mixing of terms. Bluerogue cleared it up I think but I will be more explicit.

Hoteling is the full time telework program. I believe over 5000 patents people work at home 4-5 days a week. There would be mass chaos at the office if those people suddenly had to work at the office even a couple days a week--there is no room for them. But there is no indication whatsoever that this program is going away.

A caveat to the hoteling program is that you can only work at home all the time if you live within 50 miles of the office (Alexandria). If you live outside that radius you have to report to the office, I think it is once every two weeks (a small workaround is to work the second Sat. and first Sun. of two biweeks, hitting two biweeks in one weekend). This seems weird but it is apparently some legal requirement based on OPM regulations or laws that would possibly require the office to pay for trips to Alexandria if employees are ever required to come in for whatever reason, the 50 miles rule avoids that for some reason.

TEAPP is the pilot program that removes that reporting requirement for those living more than 50 miles away, in return we give up our "right" to demand reimbursement for travel in certain instances.  TEAPP is the one that is ending in December unless there is Congressional action, though as noted herein there is speculation that the office will probably just consider the people already on it as still on it.

TEAPP has around 2500 of those 5000+ hotelers. I think if TEAPP went away a significant number of those on TEAPP would leave, higher than fewyearsin's 5% number. Those people by definition live more than 50 miles away, they in fact live all around the country, and it would totally change their lives to suddenly have to go back to the office once every two weeks. Many would say "I'll just fly in once a month" but it would get old real quick buying a plane ticket and losing a weekend every month, especially when it clearly has no benefit to the job or to anyone. And keep in mind that even within 50 miles isn't that great in the DC area--at one point I lived 47 miles from the office and it would take over 2 hours to get there if I had to go during peak hours. It would basically be a wasted day any time I had to go to Alexandria. Now I live a bit further out. I don't know if I'd leave but I'd really look at my options.

Also, someone talked about locality pay and the special rate...the special rate is the nationwide patent examiner pay scale, locality pay is where federal employees get a pay bump if living in HCOL areas like NYC, SF. My understanding is the purpose of the special rate is to make us more on par with those in the industry (engineering or patent industry? I don't know), this was part of a negotiated agreement with the union, so I don't see how telework would affect that in any way whatsoever. But I could understand them not wanting to pay locality rates, if higher than the special rate, to those who voluntarily live in HCOL areas while teleworking full time. I know nothing more of this rumor, but fail to see how the special rate would go away for anyone...ETA: oh I see the poster suggested that the "new authorization" i.e. any congressional replacement for TEAPP, would try to lower pay in that way. I think it's impossible to speculate what this Congress might manage to pass, though screwing over a few federal employees probably wouldn't hurt anyone politically.
« Last Edit: 08-14-17 at 11:21 am by lazyexaminer »
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i patent examiner

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #13 on: 08-14-17 at 11:29 am »

I hear somebody just put in an order at the GSA for a few thousand sign in/sign out forms.....
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rouleur

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Re: TEAPP
« Reply #14 on: 08-14-17 at 12:35 pm »

Sorry about the confusion, I was referring to people who would be affected if TEAPP were not renewed, which is to say, people who currently live >50 miles from Alexandria and do not have to report back once a biweek.

-----


Also, someone talked about locality pay and the special rate...the special rate is the nationwide patent examiner pay scale, locality pay is where federal employees get a pay bump if living in HCOL areas like NYC, SF. My understanding is the purpose of the special rate is to make us more on par with those in the industry (engineering or patent industry? I don't know), this was part of a negotiated agreement with the union, so I don't see how telework would affect that in any way whatsoever. But I could understand them not wanting to pay locality rates, if higher than the special rate, to those who voluntarily live in HCOL areas while teleworking full time. I know nothing more of this rumor, but fail to see how the special rate would go away for anyone...ETA: oh I see the poster suggested that the "new authorization" i.e. any congressional replacement for TEAPP, would try to lower pay in that way. I think it's impossible to speculate what this Congress might manage to pass, though screwing over a few federal employees probably wouldn't hurt anyone politically.


As for the locality pay, it is my impression that what is bolded above is what is currently in effect.  I think one may always request to have duty station changed to, say, Silicon Valley, but the request is not granted as a matter of right.
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