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Government ADR Editorial

Like many other sections of ADR, we are a loose group of folks who are interested in how dispute resolution techniques are implemented and how they evolve in the government setting. This may be within federal, state or local entities.

While sometimes referred to as being monolithic in proportions, government ADR programs are distinct as they operate in a wide array of conflicts. In the federal context, disputes including conflicts in the areas of: contract and procurement; workplace, EEO and grievance; claims; and enforcement and regulation. ADR programs may focus on management of conflict, prevention of disputes, or their resolution. Often these three approaches overlap.

Government ADR professionals include those who design or administer these programs, use the ADR services, train in ADR, are neutrals for the various complaints, or who encourage the existence of these programs.

Some ADR programs have a history of one or two decades where their programs have had time to evolve to best serve their customers (users) and their organizational structure. Other programs are at their infancy or toddler stage but are able to modify the experiences of other systems to jump start their own ADR initiatives.

The challenges within government offices to provide ADR with the highest level of neutrality, confidentiality, credibility, usership, effective results, and voluntariness echo the same efforts seen in the private sector. Thus, government never works in a vacuum as it is constantly improved and complemented by the creativity and resources of the private sector – and the favor is returned as well. May the partnership between private and public ADR sectors forever be strong!

With this introduction, I’d like to tell you a bit of how I came to be so involved in government, specifically federal, ADR.

The Administrative Dispute Resolution and the Negotiated Rulemaking Acts, both of 1990, were in many senses incubated, nurtured, and hatched at the Administrative Conference of the United States, where I worked from 1991 until it was closed by Congress in 1995. When a bi-partisan Congress introduced the legislation, they knew that the Administrative Conference had already done the homework and they could guarantee to constituents that these laws would truly improve the operation of government. This has been proven multiple times since the Acts have become law, with agencies innovating dispute resolution practices in the areas of rulemaking, adjudication, and internal process throughout contracting, enforcement, environmental, and workplace programs. Agencies have so incorporated dispute resolution in how they consider their mission that it is rare to find programs which don’t think about fairness, efficiency and access to some type of ADR mechanism.

In future issues of this newsletter, I look forward to sharing with you views on trends in government ADR; the role of the US Department of Justice in encouraging ADR; and how credentialing and rosters work within the government context.

Below are a number of Federal ADR websites that may be of interest. In the future, I will add to the list with resources from state and local programs.

I look forward to hearing from you and learning of your experiences in government ADR.

All the best,

Deborah S. Laufer,

Director, Federal ADR Network

Defense Logistics Agency, ADR Home Page

Department of Agriculture, Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center

Department of the Air Force, ADR Home Page

Department of Energy, Office of Dispute Resolution

Department of Health and Human Services

Department of the Interior, Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution

Department of Justice, ADR Homepage

Department of Labor, Alternative Dispute Resolution

Department of Labor, Settlement Judge Program
Office of Administrative Law Judges

Department of the Navy, ADR Website

Department of Transportation, ADR Homepage

Department of Veterans Affairs, Dispute Resolution Programs

Environmental Protection Agency, Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Mediation

Federal Aviation Administration
Alternative Dispute Resolution

Federal Aviation Administration
Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, ADR Page

Federal Labor Relations Authority, Collaboration and ADR Program

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

General Services Administration, Arbitration and Mediation Resources

Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution

Interagency ADR Working Group

National Institutes of Health, Office of the Ombudsman, Peer Resolution

National Mediation Board

Office of Personnel Management, ADR Resource Guide

Office of Special Counsel Mediation Program

United States Postal Service REDRESS Program


Deborah Laufer

Deborah Schick Laufer became the Manager for Mediation Services at the World Bank.  She is also Executive Director of the Federal ADR Network (FAN), which she founded in 1998. The Federal ADR Network focuses on distributing ADR information and materials electronically.  Ms. Laufer is an experienced trainer in interest-based bargaining,… MORE >

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