Brief History of Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Federal Government

In the 1990’s the federal government promoted a new concept in effective government which encouraged cooperation, collaborative problem solving and the use of alternative dispute resolution to resolve claims by and against the government. In 1996 Congress passed the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act (ADRA) which requires each agency to promotion and use alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve disputes, designate a senior official to be the agency “Dispute Resolution Specialist,” and to adopt an agency specific ADR policy.

In 1998, President Clinton issued an order requiring that each federal agency develop a policy to promote greater use of ADR in administrative disputes. The Interagency ADR Working Group was established as a resource for developing ADR programs and sharing information to support the use of ADR.

Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution in the Federal Government

Today federal agencies use ADR as a valuable tool for preventing and resolving a broad spectrum of internal and external conflicts. The result is a more pro-active, effective, collaborative, and transparent federal government; a more productive and satisfied federal workforce; a more efficient procurement process; and a problem-solving perspective to a myriad of conflicts, all of which improve the functioning and accessibility of government and directly benefit the public.

New Resources

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New! Administrative Conference of the United States Report on ADR in Agency Adjudication

In 2021, the Administrative Conference of the United States published a report on Alternative Dispute Resolution in Agency Administrative Programs.  This report studies how federal agencies use and might better use different types of ADR —including mediation, conciliation, facilitation, factfinding, minitrials, arbitration, and the use of ombuds—in the programs Congress has entrusted them to administer. It also addresses the use of ADR to resolve disputes before the initiation of a formal agency adjudicative proceeding or litigation involving the agency’s enforcement authority. Click here to read the full report.
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