U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Alternative Dispute Resolution

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[edit] General Information

  • Official name: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Country: USA
  • City: Washington
  • Type of organization: non-profit organization
  • Date of creation: -
  • Interests: Mediation - Training
  • Fields of expertise: Workplace Disputes

[edit] Overview

Consistent with the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1996 and as stated in Veterans Affairs’s ADR Policy, VA Directive 5978, Department of Veterans Affairs supports ADR to the maximum extent practicable and at the earliest possible stage to prevent, minimize, and resolve disputes between or among the Department and its employees and other parties. ADR helps to achieve mutually acceptable and cost-effective outcomes and to accomplish business efficiently, economically, and productively.

[edit] Workplace Disputes

The Office of Resolution Management (ORM) is responsible for coordinating and overseeing VA’s Workplace ADR Program. Mediation is the primary ADR process used at VA to address disputes either prior to or during administrative processes such as the EEO complaint process and negotiated grievance procedure. ORM offers guidance and support to ADR programs throughout VA. Workplace ADR staff can assist Administrations in designing, implementing, and improving programs at their facilities, regions, and networks, to include assisting with obtaining mediators, marketing, and training.

VA is committed to providing a work environment that enables VA employees to deliver quality care and services to our Nation’s veterans and their beneficiaries. To accomplish this, employees must have access to effective and efficient mechanisms for managing conflict and resolving workplace disputes. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a valuable resource in managing conflict and resolving disputes. ADR processes, such as mediation, further VA’s core values, including open communication and respect in the workplace.

[edit] Requesting ADR during Workplace Dispute

VA and non-VA facilitators and mediators are available to assist employees and managers in resolving workplace disputes. Trained facilitators use techniques to improve the flow of information in meetings, with groups in conflict, and with individuals in conflict. Mediators sit down with the individuals in conflict and assist them in discussing the employment relationship, some of the issues that have arisen which are underlying the dispute, and explore mutually acceptable ways to resolve those issues.

If an employee, manager, or organization is experiencing unproductive conflict and is interested in using facilitation or mediation to address the issue(s), the individual should contact their local ADR coordinator or the VA Workplace ADR Program. The ADR coordinator can provide information on available options, assist in identifying who should participate in the process, determine if the individuals involved in the dispute are willing to mediate, and if so, obtain the facilitator/mediator, schedule the session, and see the process through to completion.

[edit] ADR in the EEO process

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 29 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1614.102(b) (2) states that Federal agencies must, “Establish or make available an alternative dispute resolution program. Such program must be available for both the pre-complaint process and the formal complaint process.” It is the policy of VA to encourage the use of mediation to resolve EEO complaints, when the issues are appropriate for mediation. Typically, mediation will not be entertained in cases where there is an indication that fraud, waste, or abuse has been committed, or an allegation of patient abuse, sexual harassment, or removal for cause occurred.

[edit] Requesting ADR during the EEO Complaint Process

Mediation can be requested at any time during the EEO complaint process. The employee should advise the EEO counselor, intake specialist, or investigator, depending on the stage of the process where mediation is being requested, of their interest in ADR.

The EEO official assigned to the case will then contact the facility, region, network to determine if mediation will be offered. If both parties agree to mediate, the local ADR coordinator will then assist with obtaining mediators, scheduling the session, and seeing the process through to closure.

[edit] VACO ADR Program

The ADR program for Central Office (CO) employees and managers is coordinated by the Office of Resolution Management. Veterans Affairs employees and managers interested in using mediation or other ADR processes to resolve a workplace dispute should contact the Veterans Affairs Central Office (VACO) ADR Coordinator or the ADR Liaison for their office or organization. The VACO ADR Program will provide information on available options, assist in identifying who should participate in the process, determine if the individuals involved in the dispute are willing to mediate, and if so, obtain the facilitator/mediator, schedule the session, and see the process through to completion.

[edit] Administrative Dispute Resolution Act and Confidentiality

The Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1996 (ADRA) encourages and supports the use of ADR within the federal government. The provisions of ADRA establish requirements regarding confidentiality of communication during ADR processes involving federal agencies (5 U.S.C. § 574). It is essential that neutrals and parties be informed of the confidentiality protections available under ADRA and of the limitations to that protection.

[edit] VA Mediator Certification Program

The Veterans Affairs mediator certification program establishes standards that VA employees should meet in order to mediate workplace disputes within VA. The program identifies specific skills individuals should possess as well as training and experience requirements that must be met to be certified. The program is designed to ensure the ADR services VA provides are of the highest quality and that VA is constantly developing its roster of VA employees available to mediate workplace disputes.

[edit] ADR Awareness and Training

The Office of Resolution Management offers web-based tools to increase ADR awareness as well as instructor-led training courses.

[edit] Contact

810 Vermont Avenue, NW - Washington, DC 20420 - USA

Tel: (202) 501-2800

Email: workplaceadr@va.gov

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