In 2002, then USPTO commissioner James Rogen noted a prevalent customer response that "We don't like the e-filing system. It's cumbersome, it's not user friendly, and it doesn't work very well, and that's why we don't file electronically." Currently only a small percentage of patents are filed electronically.
In response, the USPTO's public advisory committee (the PPAC) has announced a new e-filing committee chaired by Andy Gibbs, CEO of PatentCafe.com to focus on the e-filing system and possible improvements. According to their press release:
This new E-Filing and E-Government Subcommittee will be responsible for working closely with the Patent Office to provide feedback and recommendations regarding current technologies and processes that the PTO is considering to improve its electronic filing process.
The PTO's newly updated electronic filing software is freely available here.
As an aside, the membership on the PPAC is via a three-year appointment. Nominees have been requested by the USPTO and are due by September 3, 2004. [PDF Notice] Membership on the PPAC is accompanied by a fairly good government pay rate (for level III of the Executive Schedule).