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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.

Who is involved?
Over 40 federal agencies and sub-agencies currently participate in SN. The roster primarily serves the Washington-Baltimore area although SN will mediate elsewhere if travel costs are paid by the requesting agency.

Who are the mediators?
Roster members are federal employees who mediate as a collateral duty or government retirees who volunteer their services. They must have considerable expertise: (1) at least 20 hours of basic mediation skills training; (2) at least three co-mediations with a qualified mediator or five independent mediations and positive evaluations from a qualified trainer/evaluator; and (3) at least two references from two qualified mediators or trainer/evaluators.

What is a co-mediator?
A co-mediator is trained in basic mediation skills but has limited mediation experience. SN maintains a registry of co-mediators who team with experienced mediators and, after a mentoring period, are eligible to become lead mediators.

Who is the contact person?
For more information about the program, please email Sharing Neutrals staff at ADR@hhs.gov.

What are the logistics for the process?
The agency EEO officer or ADR coordinator requests a mediator by emailing ADR@hhs.gov. It typically takes at least 7-10 business days to locate available mediators. Requests should include the following:
• Name of the agency coordinator;
• Location of the mediation;
• Preferred date(s) of mediation: (provide at least 3 dates)
• Brief description of the type of case/dispute (e.g. formal/informal EEO complaint, grievance, workplace or program dispute);
• Number of participants and whether legal representatives will be present;
• Any specific needs or requests that might affect the selection of referrals (e.g. language skills or
special needs).

The requesting agency is responsible for coordinating logistics, such as:
• Locating appropriate room for the mediation
• Providing supplies, such as flip charts and markers
• Providing rooms for private caucuses
• Reimbursing travel expenses incurred by the mediators
• Providing contact information of the agency coordinator to the parties and mediators in the event of logistical problems

What are the principles and standards used?
Every individual and agency participating in SN agrees to abide by principles of confidentiality, as outlined in Section 574 of the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act as amended in 1996 and the Standards of Practice for Sharing Neutrals.

What final action takes place at the close of a case?
Mediation agreements are generally drafted by the mediator and signed by the parties. If mediation ends without agreement, the case is referred back to the requesting agency for the next steps in the agency processes; mediation does not limit other formal rights. At the close of mediation, the mediator provides the parties with evaluation forms and asks parties to return the forms to the SN group. For tracking purposes, the SN group asks mediators to report the outcome. To ensure confidentiality, the SN group receives limited substantive information about the case.

Sharing Neutrals Policy
Agreement to Mediate
Mediator Profile
Supervisor's Approval
Standards of Practice
User Survey
Mediation Report

Content created by Departmental Appeals Board (DAB)
Content last reviewed on April 20, 2017