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Alternative Dispute Resolution Division

Dispute resolution.The Alternative Dispute Resolution Division provides Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services in appeals filed with the Board's other three Divisions (Appellate, Civil Remedies and Medicare Operations Division) The ADR also supports the Dispute Resolution Specialist (Constance Tobias, Chair, Departmental Appeals Board) in carrying out her responsibilities for ADR policy and program development.

For appeals filed with the Board, mediation is the most commonly requested ADR service, followed by ombudsman services and early neutral evaluation. Dispute Resolution Specialist activities include providing mediation and facilitation services to the Department's constituent agency EEO and other workplace conflict resolution programs, providing conflict resolution training, advice and guidance on ADR system development and design, and participating in inter-agency ADR activities through the Federal Inter-Agency ADR Steering Committee and the Federal Sharing Neutrals Program.

Mediation is assisted negotiation. In mediation, a trained, neutral third party helps two or more parties negotiate to resolve their dispute. Mediation typically employs a problem-solving approach to address conflict rather than the traditional, adversarial method. Mediators are trained in communication and problem solving skills, which they use to help parties make the best possible decisions about whether to, and how to, resolve their dispute.

Sharing Neutrals
Sharing Neutrals (SN) is an interagency mediation program in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. SN provides free mediators to participating Federal agencies. SN operates through a pool of trained and experienced collateral duty mediators who provide mediation services to agencies other than their own in exchange for like services to the program from the recipient agency.

While the standards refer primarily to mediators, all participants are encouraged to review them carefully. Policies and practices that uphold these standards will help ensure fairness for the parties and the process.

Training courses in conflict management and mediation are offered quarterly as part of a regular curriculum or upon request to any HHS office having special requirements.  Courses are designed to help HHS employees and supervisors build competency in core conflict management skills, including communication and interest-based problem solving.  Faculty includes experienced mediators from the Office of the HHS Dispute Resolution Specialist and the Department of Transportation’s Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Conflict Management Coaching
Conflict Coaching is a voluntary, confidential process that assists people with managing conflict.  In Conflict Coaching, a trained neutral has an informal one-on-one conversation with the person seeking assistance to help clarify goals, discuss the dynamics of the conflict, and consider perspectives of the other person involved.  The neutral also aids the person seeking help in deciding and practicing how best to address the conflict, which may entail having a constructive conversation with the other person.  Coaches are trained in conflict management and communication skills.  Conflict Coaching is preferred by those who want help with a conflict but do not want to discuss the problem directly with the other person, either in mediation or some other conflict resolution process.  Conflict Coaching often prepares individuals for such interventions.