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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Policy, Management and Budget
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Preliminary Recommendations

Workplace Recommendations

Based on all of the information collected within and outside the Department, the Work Team agreed on the following attributes for an Ideal Workplace Program at DOI:

  • One unified workplace ADR program
  • Neutral location - safe for all employees
  • Easy, equal access for all employees
  • Confidentiality maintained
  • Employee provided various options (source of neutrals and processes available)
  • Addresses concerns at earliest opportunity and at lowest possible level
  • Voluntary participation/mandatory for managers
  • Quality mediators
  • Agreements are binding and enforceable
  • Generates good information for measuring
  • Inexpensive

In keeping with the identified attributes of an ideal workplace program, the work team recommends that the Department modify its existing workplace ADR programs to reduce administrative redundancy, maximize sharing of resources, and optimize customer service. The Department's objectives for the workplace ADR program are to:

  • provide all DOI employees equal access to safe, fair and effective means of addressing any workplace concern
  • resolve conflicts at the earliest opportunity and at the lowest level possible
  • increase customer satisfaction with all of DOI's internal dispute resolution processes (ADR, EEO, grievance, etc.)
  • reduce the time required to resolve workplace complaints and eliminate backlogs of complaints
  • achieve mutually acceptable solutions whenever possible (satisfaction with results)
  • reduce the direct and indirect costs associated with resolving workplace disputes (save time and $ and loss of productivity)
  • Create one comprehensive workplace ADR program with easy access through multiple entry points and clear options available to all employees across the Department. ADR program is intended to supplement rather than take the place of, other available processes.
  • Create a Departmental Workplace ADR Coordinator position, located outside of Personnel and EEO, with responsibility for coordinating and providing guidance and support to all bureaus and offices on the administration of the workplace ADR program. Preferred location is in DRS office under AS PMB.
  • Clearly identify the role and functions of the Departmental Workplace ADR Coordinator and the relationship to the Departmental DRS, Departmental management for Personnel and OEO and the Bureaus-bureaus may designate workplace ADR program managers - option of collateral duty or full-time depending on demand/need in particular bureau, with common responsibilities and training - this is the workplace ADR team chaired by the workplace ADR coordinator.
  • Workplace team works in collaboration to develop common definitions, standards, procedures, forms, training curriculum, tracking system, and evaluation tools, and reporting format to be used throughout the Department. Purpose of common tools is to afford some consistency and quality control for services offered to employees throughout the Department.
  • Focus on sharing resources and maximize use of current pool of CORE specialists and EEO counselors to provide ADR intake, coaching and referral assistance, rather than recruiting a whole new cadre of collateral duty employees. These "conflict resolution counselors" will not provide mediation services, but will assist parties in determining if a mediation or other ADR process is appropriate and provide information on options, including how to access a neutral acceptable to all parties.
  • Explore development of an electronic system to support and supplement conflict resolution counselors and other employee assistance. Affords employees easy, anonymous, user friendly access to information and guidance on employees' options. This "Smart system" could also allow for questions.
  • DRS and Workplace Coordinator will create and maintain a department-wide roster of internal mediators and facilitators that can be accessed by every bureau or office as one alternative source of well-trained, experienced and qualified neutrals. Departmental standards will be established for inclusion on the roster to ensure consistent quality control. This will be a small cadre of high quality in-house service providers. High quality external neutral services should also be readily available and offered to the parties. Establish minimum qualifications for internal and external neutrals. Explore the use of "volunteers" to provide neutral services, including retired federal employees.
  • The cost of internal or external neutral will be paid by the bureau or office using the services.
  • Should design comprehensive awareness and skills training targeted for variety of audiences, including the "conflict resolution counselors," all potential users, etc. (training and marketing efforts should be coordinated with the DRS)-objective is to provide consistent marketing and promotion of ADR, increase ADR awareness, explain ADR policies and programs, identify and provide appropriate skills training, develop knowledge of rights based processes).
  • Create a design, policy committee for workplace ADR-allow for constant evaluation and improvement of program.
  • Work with unions as workplace ADR system designed.

Proposed Implementation Steps:

  • Draft a position description for a Departmental Workplace ADR Coordinator and draft performance standards which includes relationship/coordination with departmental managers for Personnel and OEO and bureaus
  • Hire Workplace ADR coordinator
  • Issue Memo announcing position and program
  • Revise existing DM policy consistent with decisions and 1614 regulations - clearly identify access/entry points to ADR program (i.e. tie in with all existing rights based complaint processes)
  • Establish common standards, guidance, documents and materials
  • Develop training plan and performance elements for all conflict resolution counselors
  • Explore development of electronic smart system/information/screening tools DRS works with ADR Coordinator and heads of Personnel and OEO to develop a comprehensive strategic plan and budget