The White House announced new Executive Actions related to the patent system today. One of the actions is specifically about the mission of Ask Patents.
"Crowdsourcing Prior Art. To determine whether an invention is novel, examiners in the USPTO must find and apply information about the state-of-the-art in the relevant technology. However, documents reflecting this state of knowledge can sometimes be difficult to find and incorporate into the patent-examination process. Today, the USPTO is announcing that it is exploring a series of measures to make it easier for the public to provide information about relevant prior art in patent applications, including by refining its third-party submission program, exploring other ways for the public to submit prior art to the agency, and updating its guidance and training to empower examiners to more effectively use crowd-sourced prior art. This effort will focus on driving valuable contributions to the patent process and to patent quality, strengthening a process that is vital to innovation and economic growth. The USPTO will seek public input on these efforts, as the Administration calls on the public and expert stakeholders to partner with us to encourage the disclosure and sharing of prior art, particularly hard-to-find references."
The other two are "More Robust Technical Training and Expertise, and " Patent Pro Bono and Pro Se Assistance."