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Workplace ADR: Facts and Figures from the Federal Sector

by John Ford
May 2000 John Ford
Introduction
A number of recent initiatives by Congress and the Government have encouraged the use of alternative methods of workplace dispute resolution throughout the Executive Branch. These initiatives include the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1996. These facts and figures from a few of the Federal ADR programs were obtained from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Alternative Dispute Resolution: A Resource Guide. The full text of the Resource Guide is available online at http://www.opm.gov/er/adrguide/toc.htm

Department of Agriculture
The overall resolution rate is 82%, and the time from request for mediation to actual mediation averages 24 days. The estimated savings in staff resources, investigative, and litigation costs exceed $1,000,000 over the last two years.

Federal Election Commission
During the period March 1994 through April 1997, the agency resolved 100% of the 26 issues employees brought voluntarily before the EEO Director. Based on the EEOC’s 1996 estimates, the total cost to process an EEO complaint from precomplaint counseling to litigation is between $162,390 and $310,390.

Treasury
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Pilot Project has helped improve employee morale and satisfaction and has improved management-employee relationships. Where employees have agreed to use the mediation or fact-finding processes, 83% of the cases were resolved within approximately 25 days (versus 180 days or more through the traditional complaint process) after the dispute was brought to the project. ADR has reduced processing time and transaction costs associated with processing informal and formal complaints through the administrative, grievance, and EEO processes. The pilot process resulted in annual savings of approximately $42,000, plus an anticipated cost avoidance of approximately $300,000 - $700,000 in FY 1997.

IRS - Kansas City Service Center
Since its establishment in April 1994, 190 cases have been handled through the ADR program. Reports completed for each informal complaint filed at the service center show approximately a 2:1 benefit in terms of resolution rates, cost of resources, and time spent when comparing the ADR program with traditional counseling.

U.S. Mint
Since its inception in 1998, 88 cases have been handled through the ADR process and of that total, only three progressed to arbitration for resolution. Also during this time period, the number of EEO complaints at the pilot facilities has decreased by 38%. As a result of the ADR program, the Mint estimates that it has avoided approximately $2 million in costs from cases that could have progressed through the normal litigation channels of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Merit Systems Protection Board or Federal Labor Relations Authority.

Veterans Integrated Service Network 22
The program maintains a Performance Measures Statistics Report which tracks total number of requests for mediation, total completed mediations, total number of mediations withdrawn, total number of mediations scheduled and unscheduled, and a cost data analysis sheet. Savings to date are approximately $1,050,000 in dismissed EEO claims and $420,000 in averted EEO complaints. The program has an 85% successful resolution rate.

Biography


 

John Ford is the author of Peace at Work and founder of the HR Mediation Academy. He mediates; trains; and consults to organizations that have accepted the inevitability of conflict and are seeking to approach it with greater clarity and confidence. He was the managing editor of Mediate.com from 2000 to 2011, and is a past president of the Association for Dispute Resolution of Northern California. 



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Website: www.johnford.com

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