Program Support Assistant

Alexandria, Virginia
May 04, 2021
May 08, 2021
Full Time


Come work for the USPTO, we have been ranked as one of the best places to work in the federal government! The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been serving the economic interests of America for more than 200 years. We are responsible for granting US intellectual property rights for patents and trademarks. The USPTO is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, and has over 12,000 employees. For more information about the USPTO, please visit the USPTO Jobs Website .

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At the entry level of this position the incumbent will perform the following major tasks:

*Assist in efficient management of the workload of a docket area. Monitor the number of unexamined applications in docket area in order to distribute and redistribute workload and facilitate the timely examination of applications.

*Participate in the development of performance data for use in insightful and essential decision making and day-to-day management of Art Unit or Work Group staff and activities. Monitor and review data through established reports. Report cover such areas as timeliness, pendency, docket management, quality, performance and production.

*Provide information and data requested along with supporting documentation in verbal, narrative, spreadsheet, graph, or chart form.

*Provide technical assistance in the resolution of problems with case processing special and classified applications.

*Provide administrative support for the Signatory Review Program. Monitor staff eligibility for partial and full signatory authority programs. Prepares documentation requiring management signature for granting temporary partial or temporary full signatory authority to examiners for participation in the program.

*Provide administrative support for Pre-Appeal Conferences. At the request of the supervisory patent examiner or patent examiner, coordinate appeal and pre-appeal conference activities. Work with the responsible patent examiner and two conference attendees to schedule a location, date and time for appeal and pre-appeal conferences.


Selectee's must enter a trainee position by reassignment or downgrade. Selectee's cannot be promoted into a trainee position.

Employees selected for Upward Mobility Program opportunities at a lower grade than the position they currently hold are entitled to pay retention if their existing salary cannot be accommodated within the salary range of the lower Upward Mobility Program grade. This means that the employee's salary in the lower Upward Mobility Program grade will be: 1) the rate of basic pay the employee received immediately before placement in the lower grade; or 2) 150 percent of step 10 of the lower grade, whichever is lower.

While under pay retention, employees receive 50% of annual basic pay increases (based on step 10 of the lower grade) and 100% of annual locality pay increases. Pay retention terminates when one of the following events occur: the employee becomes entitled to a rate of basic pay equal to or higher than the retained rate; the employee has a formal break in service of one workday or more; the employee declines a "reasonable offer" of a position for which the rate of basic pay is equal to or higher than the retained rate; or the employee is demoted for personal cause or at his/her request.

Travel Required

Not required

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential


Conditions of Employment

  • You must be a U.S. Citizen or National.
  • You must meet the definition of specialized experience.
  • You must meet time-in-grade-requirements.
  • Required to pass a background investigation and fingerprint check.
  • Must be registered for Selective Service, if applicable (
  • Suitable for Federal employment.

Applicants must meet the UPWARD MOBILITY CRITERIA prior to the closing date of the announcement.


Upward Mobility is a career development program that provides increased opportunities for eligible employees to successfully transition into administrative and technical positions with more career growth or potential. Upward Mobility is based on competitive selection and requires a training plan that is developed to prepare the selectee for a new career within the USPTO. The training plan is 6 to 18 months in duration and consists of developmental work assignments, on the job training, formal instruction and self-development activities directly related to the successful performance of the target level position by the selected employee.








NOTE: You are ineligible for the Upward Mobility Program position if you occupy a two-grade interval career ladder position with promotion potential above a GS-09; or you meet the qualification requirements for the TARGET level position.

You must have a current annual performance rating equivalent of at least fully successful.

The physical worksite for this position is located in Alexandria, VA. However, the United States Patent and Trademark Office is currently under a mandatory telework posture due to the COVID-19 pandemic; therefore, this position is currently under a 100 percent telework schedule. The position's telework schedule will likely change in the future when USPTO/Office of Patent Examination Support Services (OPESS) moves away from its mandatory telework posture. At that time, the incumbent will be expected to report to the physical work site in accordance with the updated status requirements of their supervisor. The nature and scope of future telework opportunities will be subject to the unit's telework policy, any applicable bargaining unit agreements, and supervisory approval. Payment of relocation expenses, as applicable, will be paid in accordance with this Job Opportunity Announcement. Non-compliance with the supervisor's telework-schedule requirement could result in adverse action, including separation.


NOTE: Applicants DO NOT have to meet the below specialized experience requirements to apply to the vacancy announcement. Applicants who are selected for the trainee position will receive the opportunity to participate in training, as identified in their Individual Training Plan (ITP), to allow them to meet the OPM general and specialized experience requirements needed to qualify for the target position at the end of the training period.

You must meet the following United States Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) qualification requirements for the advertised position in order to advance to the next grade level. OPM's prescribed Group Coverage Qualification Standard for Clerical and Administrative Support Positions can be found at: Clerical and Administrative Support Positions.

1) You must meet Upward Mobility program eligibility criteria as described within this announcement; AND

2) You must NOT meet OPM qualification requirements at the TARGET level of the position at time of application; AND

3) If you are currently at the GS-7 level, you must be eligible for the bridge grade level under one of the following ways: A) At least one year of experience related to this position described as basic knowledge of the functions, policies, procedures, practices, and administrative stages related to the processing of patent applications and supporting legal documents. OR, B) One full year of graduate level education; OR, C) Superior academic achievement degree in any academic discipline.

Specialized Experience: is experience that has equipped you with the particular knowledge, skills and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position, and that is typically in or related to the position to be filled. To be creditable, specialized experience must have been equivalent to at least the next lower grade level. Candidates for the GS-07 grade level must have at least 52 weeks of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower GS-06 grade level in the Federal service.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

Special Upward Mobility Provisions and Requirements:

You must meet Upward Mobility Program Eligibility criteria in order to be considered. If you are selected, you will be required to:

1. Adhere to requirements in the vacancy announcement for the UMP opportunity;

2. Provide input into the development of your Individual Training Plan (ITP) within 30 days;

3. Participate in career advising activities, when offered by the business unit;

4. Perform periodic self-evaluation of performance and review supervisory evaluation of training performance; and

5. Fulfill all training, educational, and work requirements of the approved ITP.

6. Meet standard career-ladder promotion policies and procedures to be promoted to the GS-09 target grade.

Promotion beyond the target level is based upon the following criteria: 1) you meet the basic qualification requirements (time-in-grade and specialized experience) for the next higher grade level; 2) you have demonstrated the ability to perform at the next higher grade level; and 3) your performance appraisal at the time of review was at least fully successful.

NOTE: Upon successful transition into the target position the employee is no longer considered a trainee or participant in an UMP.


As a general rule, education is not creditable above the GS-5 for most positions covered by clerical and administrative support standard; however, graduate education may be credited in those few instances where the graduate education is directly related to the work of the position.

Additional information

Applicants applying for this position must be a United States Citizen.

If you are a male applicant born after December 31, 1959, you must certify that you have registered with the Selective Service System. If you are exempt from registration under Selective Service Law, you must provide appropriate proof of exemption. Please visit the Selective Service System website for more information.

This is a Bargaining Unit position.

This is a Public Trust position and has a risk level designation of "moderate".

Background Investigation - If selected for this position, you may be required to complete a Declaration for Federal Employment (OF-306), which includes a fingerprint and credit check, to determine your suitability for Federal employment and to authorize a background investigation.

The USPTO participates in E-Verify. For more information on E-Verify, please visit the Department of Homeland Security Website .

Probationary Period- If selected, you may be required to complete an initial one-year probationary period.

All Federal employees are required to have Federal salary payments made by direct deposit to a financial institution of their choice.

Relocation Expenses are not authorized and will not be paid.

CTAP candidates will be eligible for selection priority if it is determined that they have exceeded the minimum qualifications for the position by attaining at least a "well qualified" rating of 85 out of 100. Information about CTAP eligibility is on the Office of Personnel Management's Career Transition Resources website at: OPM CTAP/ICTAP . CTAP documentation requirements are listed in the "Required Documents" section of this announcement.

More than one selection may be made from this announcement if additional identical vacancies in the same title, series, grade, and unit occur within 90 days from the date the certificate was issued.

All application materials become the property of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factors. If you believe that you have been discriminated against and would like to file an EEO complaint, you must do so within 45 days of the date of the alleged discriminatory act. Claims of employment discrimination must be submitted to the attention of the USPTO's Office of Equal Employment Opportunity & Diversity via email ( ) or phone (571-272-8292).

How You Will Be Evaluated

You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.

Your eligibility for consideration and qualifications for the position will be determined based upon a review of your detailed resume and your responses to job specific self-assessment questions. Your resume will be evaluated based on evidence of your ability to demonstrate possession of any specialized experience and how well your background and experience relates to the self-assessment questions in the job announcement.

The self-assessment questions relate to the following knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies (KSA's). You do not have to respond to the KSA's.

KSA 1 - Ability to communicate Orally

KSA 2 - Ability to Communicate in Writing

KSA 3 - Ability to Interpret, Apply, and Work with Instructions, Regulations, etc

KSA 4 - Ability to collect, organize, monitor, and analyze data from various resources

KSA 5 - Ability to use Interpersonal skills

Your responses to the self assessment questions serve as the basis for your initial rating. You will receive a numerical score based on your responses to these questions. Next, your responses will be evaluated by a Human Resources Specialist and/or a subject matter expert against the information provided in your resume and optional cover letter. Your resume must support your answers to the self assessment questions, or your score may be adjusted or lowered accordingly which may affect your overall final rating. The best qualified candidates will be identified for referral to the hiring manager and may be invited for an interview. If referred all relevant documents submitted with your application package will be forwarded to the selecting official, due weight shall be given to performance appraisals and awards in accordance with 5 CFR § 335.103(b)(3), during the interview/selection process conducted by the hiring manager. Falsifying your background, education, and/or experience is cause for not hiring you or for changing your scored responses to questions you've answered, which may affect your overall final score.

Selection will based on evidence of the candidate's potential to perform in the target position. This will involve use of such tools as performance evaluations, assessment of potential and interviews when necessary, as well as review of past work and experience, outside activities, training, and awards.

Interviews will be conducted by the Upward Mobility screening panel if you:

1)Meet the Upward Mobility program's area of consideration and position/eligibility requirements as stated within this announcement; and

2)Submit a complete application as outlined in the "How To Apply" section.

Please note that a complete application is required for consideration. (Please review the "Required Documents" section of this job announcement to see what must be included in a complete application).

To preview questions please click here .

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance

Drug test required

Position sensitivity and risk
Noncritical-Sensitive (NCS)/Moderate Risk

Trust determination process

Required Documents

A complete application consists of:

1. A resume or any other written format you choose to describe your job-related qualifications; optional cover letter: Your resume should indicate your citizenship and should list your educational and work experience including titles, salary, employment dates, duties, experience and how it relates to the specialized experience in the job announcement. Please Note: Responses to job questions that are not fully supported by the information in your resume may result in adjustments to your rating. Any experience claimed in a cover letter should be substantiated by information contained in your resume. A HR Representative will validate the qualifications of those candidates eligible to be referred to the hiring official.

Supporting Documents:

PLEASE NOTE: Applicants who meet the minimum eligibility and qualification requirements for this position may be contacted via email within 7 business days of this announcement closing to submit follow-up supporting docs if applicable. Applicants applying as current Federal employees who fail to submit supporting documents within 5 business days of receiving the email request will lose further consideration for this position. Applicants claiming CTAP or Sch A eligibility who fail to submit supporting documents within 5 business days of receiving the email request will not lose consideration for this position, however they will not be entitled to special or priority consideration. Supporting docs that may be requested of applicants after the closing date of this announcement are:

1. Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50) - For current and/or former Federal employees, your status eligibility and highest permanent grade/step/salary held in the Federal service will be validated with a copy of your most recent SF-50, "Notification of Personnel Action" so that we may verify your time-in-grade.

2. Performance Appraisal - Recent performance appraisal with supervisor's signature showing the official final rating of record, and copy of incentive award(s). In cases where the performance appraisal is incomplete or unavailable, applicants may provide explanation of the reasons.

3. Career Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) documents - Applicants will be asked to submit:
(1) A copy of your specific RIF notice, written notice of your expected separation or other documents of priority consideration status;
(2) A copy of your latest SF-50 noting current position, grade, and duty location;
(3) A copy of your last performance appraisal and the rating; and
(4) Any documents from your agency that shows your current promotion potential.

4. Special Appointing Authorities - If you are applying under the special appointing authority such as those authorized for the severely disabled (Schedule A) or Vietnam era and disabled veterans (VRA), you will be asked to submit documents showing eligibility to non-competitively apply under Merit Assignment announcements. Please indicate the type of special appointment you are seeking on your application. For more info on non-competitive appointments and supporting documents, please visit Federal Employment of People with Disabilities or Feds Hire Vets - Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans .

You can choose ONE of the following methods to submit Supporting Documents:
1) You can upload your documents when you register or update your information on the Dept. of Commerce site which you access through the USAJobs site.
2) You can fax your documents to 571-258-4254 using the system generated fax cover sheet.

Your application and all required documents must be received by 11:59 pm ET on the closing date of this job announcement.

NOTE: The preceding documents requirement are based on job requirements and individual applicant eligibility. Not all documents are applicable to all applicants; if you are unsure which documents apply to you, contact the HR Specialist listed on this announcement.

If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education .

Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

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