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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Cooperative Resolution Program References Page 1
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 Office of Outreach, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity (ODEO)



  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):  Any of a number of informal conflict resolution processes/techniques where employees, managers, agencies, and REE customers voluntarily agree to attempt to resolve their disputes with the assistance of a third party neutral.

  • ADR Program Specialist:  A neutral, impartial third party professional responsible for managing the ADR Program.  The services provided include mediation, conflict coaching, consultation, facilitation, facilitated dialogues, group intervention, team building, communication and conflict management training.

  • Combination of Services:  Often services may be combined to provide advantageous aspects of more than one method.  For example, if in mediation the mediator finds that the parties are able to speak directly to each other in a productive way, the mediator may utilize the facilitator role and follow-up with the mediator role later.  CRP is not limited to using only one method or process.  Using various methods in combination may also yield fruitful results and be very effective in reaching resolution.

  • Communication Training:  Skills-based training to assist individuals to identify and explore personal communication styles; identify and respect different working styles; demonstrative active listening skills; eliminate roadblocks that undermine effective communication and build collaborative working relationships that emphasize trust and respect.

  • Confidentiality:  All requests for ADR services are confidential.  In mediation, parties sign a confidentiality agreement.  The mediation cannot be tape recorded nor transcribed.  After the mediation, notes and document copies in the mediator's possession are destroyed.  Mediators are bound by confidentiality to the extent of the law (5 USC 574).  However, if a mediator becomes aware of information regarding fraud, waste, abuse, criminal activity or imminent threat of physical harm, the mediator is compelled to disclose it.  Mediators cannot be subpoenaed to become a witness in a court proceeding (Administrative Dispute Act of 1996).

  • Conflict:  Any disagreement, discord, argument, complaint, or legal action, as well as the circumstances leading up to it.

  • Conflict Coaching:  A confidential process that helps people on a one-on-one basis to develop or enhance their skills, knowledge and competencies to more effectively engage in and manage interpersonal conflict.  Any REE employee who contacts the CRP to request conflict coaching will engage in a one-on-one relationship (coach-coachee) with a CRP ADR Program Specialist over a specific period of time to work toward a particular conflict management goal.

  • Consultation: A confidential conversation between a CRP ADR Program Specialist and an REE employee where information about ADR services is provided to enable the REE employee to make informed choices about the use of the CRP services.

  • Customer:  Individuals, organizations, or businesses external to USDA that provides services to or receive services from REE or that have contact with any REE office or employee.

  • Early Intervention:  An attempt to resolve a conflict at the earliest possible stage outside of the traditional formal complaint processes (e.g., EEO, Administrative/Negotiated Grievance, etc.).

  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Complaint Process Stages and ADR:
    • Informal Process - The counseling stage of an EEO complaint and during which ADR is offered and conducted.
    • /ODEO/contact.htm

    • Formal Process - The stage of an EEO complaint initiated by the filing of a written complaint with the Office of Civil Rights and during which ADR is offered and conducted.

  • Facilitated Dialogue:  A structured conversation between two or more parties involved in a conflict.  Parties engage in an open-ended exploration of the issues at hand, rather than remain stuck in adversarial negotiating positions.  Facilitators will act to ensure that all parties have the opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences about the conflict as well as seeking mutually satisfactory resolutions.

  • Facilitator:  A trained, skilled, third-party who is substantively neutral, and who has no substantive decision-making authority diagnoses and intervenes to help a group improve how it identifies and solves problems and makes decisions, to increase the group's effectiveness

  • Good Faith - An effort to honestly, sincerely, and fully discuss problems and matters in conflict, and to explore solutions to those problems or conflicts.

  • Grievance:  A request by an employee, or a group of employees acting as individuals, for personal relief in a matter of concern or dissatisfaction which is subject to the control of agency management, relating to the employment of the employee(s).

  • Group Facilitation:  A process that involves the use of technique to improve the flow of information in a meeting between parties in conflict.  It serves to help a group complete a task, solve a conflict problem (group intervention), or come to an agreement to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.  Successful facilitation takes preparation and planning, a constructive attitude and behaviors on the part of the parties, a collection of process tools, and a planned implementation for results.

  • Group Intervention:  A facilitated process that addresses group or team conflict, difficult team communications and damaging group dynamics which have become a distraction to the group's success and have contributed to an unproductive work environment.  Each process is designed to address specific team issues, resolve conflict issues, and guide the team to develop conflict management strategies to self-monitor and address future conflict in a positive and collaborative manner.


Last Modified: 8/13/2016
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