The OSC Mediation Program

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

The Office of Special Counsel offers Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve selected complaints from Prohibited Personnel Practices and USERRA cases. In appropriate circumstances, ADR can yield results that are faster, less expensive and more tailored to the parties’ needs than traditional legal routes. ADR is completely voluntary. ADR consists of several alternatives to litigation. Among the processes included under the umbrella of ADR are mediation, conciliation, neutral evaluation and assisted negotiation. To date, most of the ADR conducted at the Office of Special Counsel is mediation.

OSC mediators, who have extensive mediation training and experience in federal personnel law, conduct a mediation session at a mutually convenient time and location. If mediation results in resolution, the agreement is reduced to writing and becomes binding on both parties.



What is Mediation?

In mediation, a neutral third party assists the opposing parties in reaching a voluntary, negotiated resolution of the complaint. Mediation gives the parties the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the complaint, clear up misunderstandings, find areas of agreement and ultimately incorporate those areas of agreement into a final resolution of the complaint. Mediation is different from other forms of dispute resolution in that the parties participate voluntarily, and the mediator has no authority to make a decision. The decision-making power rests in the hands of the parties.



How Does OSC’s Mediation Process Work?

Participation in the OSC Mediation Program is voluntary. In selected cases that are slated for referral to OSC’s Investigation and Prosecution Division, the OSC ADR Specialist contacts the complainant and the employing agency to invite them to participate in the mediation program. If both parties agree, OSC schedules a Mediation Session. OSC mediators*, who have extensive mediation training and experience in federal personnel law, conduct a mediation session at a mutually convenient time and location. If mediation results in resolution, the agreement is put into writing and becomes binding on both parties.

Mediation gives the parties the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the complaint, clear up misunderstandings, find areas of agreement and, ultimately, to incorporate those areas of agreement into a final resolution of the complaint. The mediator focuses the attention of the parties upon their needs and interests in addition to their stated positions.



* Under a mediation pilot program during 2012, mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, who have been trained in federal personnel law, are mediating some OSC cases.