What We Do
The Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution offers mediation and facilitation services to help parties resolve disputes efficiently and effectively.
Disputes in the Department arise in a variety of areas and contexts, from acquisition-related disputes to civil enforcement and from environmental disputes to workplace disputes between or among employees and between employees and their managers. If you contact the Center about an actual or potential dispute, the Center will work with you to determine whether an ADR process would be helpful and appropriate for the particular situation.
Two of the most common ADR processes that the Center offers are mediation and facilitation. Mediation involves a neutral third party who assists parties in resolving a dispute, or at least narrowing the issues, in a manner that is acceptable to both sides. Facilitation involves a neutral third party providing guidance to design and manage a group communication process to resolve a problem or address issues.
How to Get Services
There are absolutely no requirements or boxes to check in order to use our services. In fact, we encourage people to contact us at the earliest possible point, which may be before a situation can even be called “a conflict”, so that we can help facilitate better communication between parties.
When a party requests mediation or facilitation, a first step is to determine whether other parties involved are also interested in participating. Some requesting parties choose to contact the other directly; some prefer to have the Center staff call the other to explain the process and determine interest. Once parties have agreed to participate in a mediation or facilitation session, Center staff sets up a time for a meeting to occur. Mediations and facilitations are scheduled as soon as all parties and a neutral are available to meet. The neutral may be Center staff, an external neutral who is a Federal employee, or a private mediator or facilitator.
How It Works
Mediation typically begins with a mediator conducting a brief overview of the process and then requesting that the parties explain the situation from their perspectives. The mediator listens to the parties’ concerns and helps them communicate and engage in creative problem solving. Through a series of joint and private meetings with the parties, the mediator helps parties to narrow and clarify issues, and, if possible, reach a mutually agreeable solution. The mediator may help to draft an agreement or design next steps.
Facilitation may begin with a facilitator talking with some or all members of a group to outline goals and design an appropriate process to reach those goals. At a group meeting, the facilitator acts as a process guide to help the parties reach their stated goals. The facilitator may help to draft an agreement or design next steps.
While our conflict resolution services can be used in many different situations, the following are recent examples:
- Mediated workplace disputes involving disputes between co-workers and between supervisors and their employees.
- Facilitated the resolution of office-wide conflicts and inter-office disputes.
- Facilitated meetings to enhance communications among the Department, the aviation industry, and representatives of persons with disabilities.
- Identified mediators for procurement disputes.
- Facilitated strategic planning sessions.