STATEMENT BY SENATOR WARNER
BEFORE THE SENATE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
OVERSIGHT OF THE PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE CONSOLIDATION
SEPTEMBER 23, 1998

I would like to thank you for testifying today on the Patent and Trademark Office consolidation.

As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, we have heard and approved the prospectus for the PTO consolidation. I am convinced that the prospectus presented to us in 1995 represented an excellent, cost-effective approach to accommodating the needs of this rapidly growing agency of the federal government.

PTO's mission is one that cannot be neglected as we move ahead in a high-tech global economy.

Similarly, PTO's ability to perform that mission cannot afford to be compromised by forcing the agency to conduct business in outdated space that is not configured to meet its operational needs.

The approval resolution, which I authored, established a rental cap of $24 per square foot. In 1998 dollars, that is $25.41 per rental square foot which is less than the current lease rate for PTO's existing leases. These leases average $26 per rentable square foot.

In my book, getting new and renovated consolidated space for less than we now pay for older space is good for the taxpayer.

In my opinion, every member of this committee, that supported this resolution is an excellent "friend of the taxpayer."

Since the Committee took its action, there have been criticisms expressed about this project. To my knowledge, each and every one of these has been looked into, either by Congress, the Commerce Department Inspector General or the Secretary of Commerce, including engaging outside analytic services.

Each report has concluded that the competitive procurement should proceed.

Still, questions persist...

The purpose of this hearing is determine which of these concerns are valid and which have been raised by an offeror seeking to gain some competitive advantage, or to undermine competition altogether.

To the extent that any of these concerns are validated, it is Congress' job to make sure that there are strong mechanisms and containment measures in place to control these costs.

Where there are not adequate controls, we must provide them.

I look forward to the testimony from today's witnesses.