Finding a Neutral in Workplace Conflicts
A neutral third party, such as a mediator or facilitator, can often be helpful in preventing, managing, and resolving workplace conflict and Civil Rights disputes. The BLM’s ADR Program staff can assist BLM staff in evaluating the need for a neutral third party and identifying a source. There are two general options when a BLM employee or manager wishes to utilize a third-part neutral in a workplace situation:
- In-House CORE PLUS Neutrals: These are employees from within the Department of the Interior who are trained and certified in conflict management and dispute resolution, and who mediate or facilitate as a collateral duty. There is no charge for their services except for travel expenses if necessary. The Department has established a roster of certified CORE PLUS neutrals from across all bureaus. This cadre of certified neutrals includes BLM employees, although in some cases selecting a neutral from another bureau may preferable. To find a neutral from DOI CORE PLUS Roster, contact us.
- External third-party neutrals: These are neutral individuals outside the Department of the Interior that can assist in conflict prevention, management, and resolution. There are currently multiple sources available for external third-party neutrals in workplace disputes:
- Shared Neturals: In some areas, neutrals from a Shared Neutrals program run by a Federal Executive Board or similar consortium may be available at little or no cost. To learn more about the availability of Shared Neutrals in your area, try consulting www.feb.gov or searching for your local FEB using an Internet search engine.
- Departmental Blanket Purchase Orders: The department has awarded two seperate Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) for workplace and Civil Rights conflict management and dispute resolution. A wide range of services virtually anywhere nationwide are available under these BPAs. While the agreements are not exclusive, they provide an efficient method at rates often more competitive than those that can be obtained using other procurement methods on the open market. Under the terms of the BPAs, the firms must provided a list of potential neutrals within 3 days of a request for a netural. BLM offices who wish to use one of these BPAs to obtain a neutral should contact us.
- Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS): The FMCS is an independent agency created by Congress to provide mediation services to government and the private sector. Today, FMCS provides a wide range of workplace dispute related services, from dispute resolution system design to facilitation and mediation to technology assisted group solutsions. The roster of FMCS mediators include mediators highly qualified to mediate the entire range of workplace disputes (not just labor-management relations). These mediators are provided on a fee-for-service basis. To learn more about FMCS, visit www.fmcs.gov, where you can also search for an FMCS Mediator.
- Open Market (With or Without Full and Open Competition): Under current federal law, procurement of third-party neutrals for alternative dispute resolution proceedings is exempt from the requirements of full and open competition and public notice of contracts. 41 USC § 253(c)(3)(c); FAR 6.302-3. Thus federal agencies can chose to procure services of third-party neutrals using competitive or non-competitive sourcing options.
The ADR Program staff can help BLM staff in determining which source and type of procurement mechanism is most appropriate for aqcuiring the services of a third-party neutral. Individuals and offices that are considering the use of a neutral third party should contact us.
Additional resources for finding neutrals can be found on the right.