Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution Services for the Federal Workforce

Conflict Management, Prevention and Resolution Services and Resources for Federal Employees

Over 50 agencies have conflict management programs that provide employees a range of tailored conflict management, prevention, and resolution services.  Over the past 10 years, agencies have expanded programs and policies to promote the early use of conflict management to proactively resolve disputes at the earliest stage of the conflict.  Early dispute resolution has enabled agencies to resolve disagreements before they escalate into contest that drain resources and impede agency work. The result has been a significant increase in employee productivity and motivation, a decrease in absenteeism and health issues and a reduction in loss of skilled employees.

Services are provided by federal and private neutrals and range from consultation and conflict coaching to mediation, facilitation and ombuds services. See below for more information on the types of services and how they are provided.  For more information on agency programs and services see (link to ADR programs contact page).

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Alternative Dispute Resolution

The EEOC requires that all federal agencies have an ADR program.  Most agencies use mediation in their ADR programs.  The EEOC highly encourages the use of ADR as it offers both the employee and agency the opportunity for a fast and informal settlement of the dispute. For more information on the use of ADR for EEO complaints visit the EEOC Dashboard Informal and Formal ADR Activity.

Federal Shared Neutrals Programs

The Shared Neutrals programs are a unique federal collateral duty interagency programs that provide cost-effective services to resolve disputes and preserve working relationships through the use of ADR.  The programs enable participating Federal agencies, through reciprocal agreements, to share trained mediators and other mediation resources.  Shared Neutrals Roster members are federal employees who mediate as a collateral duty or government retirees who volunteer their services.   The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service administers the National Capital Region Shared Neutrals Program. The Federal Executive Boards administer the 19 Shared Neutral programs outside the National Capital Region.  The Federal Executive Board Annual Report FY2020 reported that the FEB-sponsored ADR programs successfully settled 195 cases, resulting in an estimate cost-avoidance of more than $10.2 million.

Collective Bargaining Mediation

The federal government has a rich history of using mediation to preserve and promote labor-management peace and cooperation. In 1947, Congress created the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) as an independent agency charged with assisting federal, state and local agencies with labor disputes.  Today, FMCS provides federal agencies with a wide variety of labor management and customizable conflict prevention and resolution services.

Federal Ombuds

In 2016 the Administrative Conference of the United States published a report on the Use of Ombuds in Federal Agencies.  The report included information from 148 internal and external federal Ombuds programs. The full report and recommendations can be found here.

The Coalition of Federal Ombudsman is the principle interagency forum that provides collaboration, advice, and guidance on professional Ombuds Standards, skills development, program development, and effectiveness.  Coalition members and committees work as an integrated and networked enterprise to increase the professionalism and effectiveness of Ombuds serving U.S. government agencies by sharing experiences, ideas, policies, standards, best practices and innovative approaches to provide world-class Ombuds services.