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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Policy, Management and Budget
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Information for Briefings on DOI's Integrated Workplace ADR System

ADR Review and Workplace Findings and Recommendations


  • January 23, 2001: Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Finance tasked Dispute Resolution Specialist (DRS) and Director of the Office of Planning and Performance (Director, PPP) to:
    • Create an interagency team to review the Department’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) policy, programs and organizational structure;
    • Develop a departmental implementation plan for the effective coordination of all ADR efforts throughout the Department: workplace, natural resources/programmatic, regulatory, and contracts; and,
    • Identify next steps to foster full and effective implementation of a comprehensive Departmental ADR policy.
  • Purpose of review was to:
    • Determine appropriate location and organizational structure for the Dispute Resolution Specialist’s (DRS’) function;
    • Provide maximum support for the centralized coordination of the Department’s broad ADR policy under the leadership of the DRS;
    • Clarify appropriate allocation of resources to support DRS function and full implementation of the Department’s ADR policy;
    • Identify ways to reduce administrative redundancy, optimize customer service and the quality of ADR services.
  • The Review Process
    • Established Interagency work team representing all functional areas to conduct ADR review;
    • Created an Executive Committee (Directors of Personnel and OEO; SOL-General Law; Director, Office of Regulatory Affairs; Director, Office of Acquisition and Property Management; Director, Office of Planning and Performance Management; and Dispute Resolution Specialist)
    Hired an outside facilitator to assist with process;
    • Conducted Benchmark Interviews with 22 federal agencies;
    • Gathered Internal Data - all employee survey (electronic)
      • facilitated meetings with key constituent groups
      • team members gathered information within respective functional areas
      • review of existing ADR programs
    • Findings and Next Step Recommendations:
      • Report issued on Review Findings and Recommendations completed on July 31, 2002, and submitted to Executive Committee and to Assistant Secretary - Policy, Management and Budget.
      • Recommendations support Secretary Norton’s 4 C’s philosophy (conservation through communication, consultation and cooperation) and foster a culture and climate where collaborative problem-solving and early conflict resolution are standard business practice throughout the Department in all areas of our work. (See Executive Summary attached)
      • All recommendations were accepted and approved - as submitted - by the Assistant Secretary - Policy, Management and Budget, P. Lynn Scarlett (See Executive Summary)
      • Secretary’s Order creating New Office on October 26, 2001. (Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution)

Workplace ADR - moving from Competing Programs to one Integrated System


  • Fiscal Year 2000, Department began implementing two distinct workplace programs
    • Conflict Resolution (CORE): coordinated by the Office of Personnel Policy
    • Equal Employment Opportunity - Partners Listening, Understanding, Solving (EEO-PLUS): coordinated by the Office for Equal Opportunity
    • Each program established minimum standards that had to be met by the Bureaus
    • Issues/Concerns - implementation of both programs inconsistent and uneven
      • employees confused about their options and differences in operation of two programs
      • limited resources to support two programs
      • little coordination or sharing of resources between the programs
      • administrative redundancies existed at Department and bureau levels, e.g., separate policies, guidance, forms, training, marketing efforts, promotional materials, sources of neutrals, and monitoring, evaluation and reporting mechanisms
      • varying levels of resistance from unions, attorneys, managers
      • lack of a consistent system for tracking and evaluating and measuring results against objectives
  • Workplace Recommendations
    • The Department’s ADR Office ( now, the Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution [OCADR]) responsible for designing one comprehensive, unified workplace ADR program for the Department, consistent with Personnel and EEO policies and requirements.
    • Create a Departmental Workplace ADR Coordinator position in the CADR Office, independent of Personnel and EEO offices, with responsibility for coordinating and providing guidance and support to all bureaus and offices on the administration of the new workplace ADR system.
    • A Departmental Workplace Program will use common definitions, standards, procedures, forms, training curriculum, marketing materials, tracking system, evaluation tools and reporting format.
    • Departmental Workplace Program should:
      • provide employees easy, clear access to information and assistance
      • clarify dispute resolution options available to address employee concerns
      • address concerns at the earliest opportunity and the lowest possible level
      • reduce administrative redundancy
      • maximize the shared use of existing resources
      • ensure confidentiality
      • provide timely access to quality neutral services
      • improve customer satisfaction
      • reduce the time and cost associated with resolving workplace conflict
      • be located in a neutral location - safe for all employees
      • provide employees various options regarding neutrals and processes available
      • generate good information for measuring (evaluation system)
      • provide for voluntary participation/mandatory for managers

Workplace Design Team

What is the task?

  • Model an interest-based collaborative approach to systems design. Team made up of representatives from each Bureau, Personnel and EEO Communities, and the Unions.
  • Chartered (by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Workforce Diversity and Director, Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution) to build a comprehensive, integrated workplace dispute resolution system that provides all employees easy access through multiple entry points and clear options for addressing any workplace concern (Goal)

Two competing programs separately guided by Personnel and OEO One Integrated Departmental Dispute Resolution System coordinated by Independent CADR office
  • Specialists trained
  • Policies generated
  • Guidelines
  • Minimum standards established
  • Reporting Requirements
  • Marketing efforts
  • Forms
  • Specialists trained
  • Policies generated
  • Guidelines
  • Minimum standards established
  • Marketing efforts
  • Forms
  • Reporting Requirements

Department will provide:

  • Tracking system
  • Marketing and promotion materials
  • Evaluation tools
  • Reporting format and data collection
  • Roster of qualified neutrals
  • Skills training curriculum
  • All employee awareness training
Expenses associated with ADR not coordinated, i.e., Department’s budget used for ADR, Human Resources budget used for ADR, EEO budget used for ADR, Bureau budgets used for ADR Coordinate and share resources

Program versus System
Reactive - Responds to disputes as they arise Proactive - Emphasis on preventing conflict
Responsibility shared by all Responsibility shared by all levels
Top down approach -Accountability resides with top managers Bottom-up control and training
Little emphasis on education Education and training are on-going activities
Reward systems reflect accountability  

Team is building a system whose design elements guarantee the following safeguards:

  • Voluntary Participation
  • Right to be represented/accompanied
  • Right to request information
  • Protection of privacy and confidentiality
  • Impartiality of neutrals
  • Neutrals who will disclose prior relationships (should it appear that a conflict exists)
  • Right to select and reject acceptable neutrals (choice)
  • Qualified neutrals to follow professional guidelines
  • Employer to ensure neutrals qualifications
  • Reflect diversity of organization
  • Statutory rights respected
  • Collective bargaining rights respected

Product/Result: Design a blueprint and transition plan for presentation to the Executive Committee. (Transition plan for implementation)

Who is on the design team?

  • Representation from each Bureau, both field and headquarters reps
  • Representation from functional areas, i.e., Human Resources, Equal Employment Opportunity, Office of the Solicitor
  • Union (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers)

Why tasked?

  • Department tasked CADR based on ADR Review and Findings and Recommendations

How task was accomplished

  • Brought in systems design experts from the private sector to work with team in designing the conceptual model and assist with the process. (Carole Houk and Cornell University)
  • Used collaborative process to design "best practice" model.
  • Team building conducted by outside facilitator and agreements reached on ground rules for conducting meeting and decision making.
  • Outside contractor with extensive experience in developing ADR programs to assist design team with process.
  • Consulted with other Federal agencies, e.g., Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, to ensure consistency with applicable regulations and policies.
  • Consensus of team members - primary method utilized for making decisions.
  • Final design subject to review and approval by Director, Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution, Bureau Dispute Resolution Specialists and Executive Committee.


  • Team had 4 meetings beginning in February, 2002.
    • April, 2002
    • May, 2002
    • July, 2002
  • Final meeting of design team scheduled for October, 2002. Will conclude design phase.

Next steps. . .(in October)

  • Finalize conceptual model based on feedback from briefings
  • Prepare for transition to implementation of Integrated Departmental Workplace Dispute Resolution system.