This page contains a list of FAQs and their answers that relate to Alternative Dispute Resolution.
- Who may use the ADR Program?
All civilian and military employees within the organizational entities of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Defense Agencies, and the DoD Field Activities serviced by Washington Headquarters Services (WHS). The ADR has been successful in facilitating resolution between employees, managers, senior leaders, working groups and full organizations.
- The other party will probably dominate and won't listen. Why should I even bother?
More often than not, the other party feels the same way. The reality is that an experienced, professional neutral controls the process and flow of communication and creates a fair and balanced climate. This allows for respectful conversation and dialogue.
- How can I ensure that my small business is being considered/included in the market research for WHS acquisitions?
Initially WHS uses two primary sources for its market research—the SAM and the SBA DSBS, formerly known as PRO-Net. It is imperative that your company's profiles in these two databases be 100% complete and accurate at all times. Pay particular attention to these data fields: Capabilities Narrative Keywords, Bonding Information (if applicable) and Contact Information (e.g., phone and e-mail). Searches in these databases often initially produce lists with dozens or even hundreds of small businesses on them. Another very important thing to do is to respond to Request for Information (RFI) and Sources Sought synopsis that are posted on FebBizOpps.
- Can EEO complaints be mediated?
Yes, both in the informal and formal stage. Mediation is the most common ADR technique in EEO cases because it has been shown to be effective in resolving workplace-related disputes quickly, economically, and fairly. Mediation is a viable alternative to lengthy and often expensive administrative process of agency investigation, hearing, and appeal to the EEOC, or possible litigation in the courts. Parties are highly encouraged to consider mediation in EEO cases.
- I know that mediation works, but how can I convince my employees to use it?
We recommend that you simply explain that mediation is a viable option with a proven success rate. Describe how it works and its benefits. Provide all informational materials and the ADR specialist's contact information. Parties must voluntarily choose to participate in mediation. If they are forced to the table, there is a lower likelihood of a successful outcome.
- In EEO cases, what role does the responsible management official have in ADR?
Once the agency has determined that a matter is appropriate for ADR, it can decide who should represent the agency and can require the responsible management official, or the agency official directly involved in the case, to cooperate in the ADR process. The agency may also appoint another official, such as the second level supervisor or office Director to represent the agency in mediation.
- Are settlement agreements confidential?
The details of the resolution must be given to specific offices with a need to have that information, such as those offices that will implement the settlement.
- Are mediation and facilitation the only services offered by the ADR?
Mediation and facilitation are most applicable to workplace disputes involving specific individuals; they do not fit every situation. The ADR Manager is available to discuss and help develop other customized conflict resolution processes, such as sensing sessions, as needed.
- Is mediation effective?
Every case is unique, but Federal statistics show that when parties come to the table in good faith, mediation helps resolve approximately 70% of workplace disputes.
- Who serves as the mediator?
The ADR Manager or other neutrals acquired from external sources in a cost-effective manner, to include the DoD Sharing Neutrals (administered by the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals), the Health and Human Services Sharing Neutrals Program, and/or the mediators from DoD's Civilian Personnel Management Service Investigations and Resolutions Division (IRD).
- Are all cases appropriate for ADR?
No. Mediation is generally not appropriate in cases when:
- A decision to set precedence is required
- The matter involves significant policy questions
- Rights of third parties cannot be addressed using ADR
- Full public participation is important, and
- the issue requires continuous oversight and adjustment
The ADR Specialist will recommend whether the case is appropriate or not, and refer cases as needed to the appropriate forum.
- What training do ADR neutrals have?
Individuals serving as mediators/facilitators have completed approved professional training as a neutral third party and agree to abide by established ethical standards. If the case is complex, a neutral with advanced training, specialized knowledge and significant experience would be assigned.
- How long does mediation take?
The length of the mediation session depends upon the complexity of the case and willingness of the parties to resolve the dispute. Most mediation sessions are completed in eight hours or less. We recommend parties set aside a minimum of 4 hours to dedicate to the resolution process. A follow up session can be scheduled if more time is required.
- Does the ADR neutral help me come up with solutions to the problem?
Yes. A Neutral is trained to help the parties "think outside the box" and pinpoint interests versus positions.
Collaborative Resolution Program
- Nothing I've done is resolving a problem between my two employees. How can the CRP help?
The presence of a neutral third party can have a profound impact on the dynamics. It removes power imbalances and puts all parties on the same playing field. Communication and understanding is often maximized because of this balanced and structured environment.
- Can an employee who has elected ADR withdraw from the process?
Yes. The ADR process is voluntary and either participant, either the employee or the supervisor/ manager representing the agency, may withdraw at any time.
- Do I lose my right to formal procedures if mediation does not work?
No. You have nothing to lose by attempting mediation. You retain the right to pursue formal avenues if settlement does not occur.
- May I bring a representative to mediation?
While it is not always necessary, both parties may bring a representative of their choosing to the mediation table. Since ADR neutrals do not provide opinions or advice about the merits of the case, a representative can often serve as a valuable feedback mechanism.