National Center for Digital Government Working Paper Series
(first paragraph) President Wubbo de Boer and his department directors, his top management team, prepared for critical meetings of the Administrative Board and the Budget Committee in the winter of 2010. The European Union’s trademark and design registration agency in Alicante, Spain, grandly named the Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market (Trade Mark and Design) (OHIM), had exceeded all expectations for the establishment of the Community trade mark (CTM) and the Registered Community design (RCD). The new agency also could be proud of impressive achievements in productivity and transparency since it began registering trademarks in 1996. Through productivity gains, the agency had reduced the fees companies paid to register trademarks and designs by about 50 percent between 1996 and 2009. Through innovative use of e-business tools and web-based information, for more than a decade OHIM managers and staff had worked to transform and simplify the processes used to examine and register trademarks and designs, completely automating many steps in these processes. They had provided powerful information tools for their “users,” OHIM’s term for the individuals and firms that interact with the agency, and for internal OHIM examiners to increase efficiency and reliability of decision making. They had surveyed users and worked closely with them to develop performance measures and service standards that would in turn challenge OHIM to continuously improve its service in terms of timeliness, quality and accessibility. They had even challenged deeply held attitudes and norms of the permanent civil service by building flexibilities including telework into workforce practices in Alicante and by efforts to rigorously examine working methods to improve productivity.