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Sharing Neutrals: An Interagency Collaborative Effort in Support of ADR

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What is it? Sharing Neutrals (SN) provides low cost, high quality mediators to federal agencies. SN operates through a pool of trained and experienced neutrals.

Who is involved? About 41 federal agencies currently participate in SN. The roster primarily serves the Washington-Baltimore area although SN neutrals will mediate elsewhere if travel costs are paid by the requesting agency. Sharing Neutrals is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Who are the mediators? Roster members are federal employees who mediate as a collateral duty, or government retirees who volunteer their services. Neutrals must have considerable expertise: (1) at least 20 hours of basic mediation skills training; (2) at least three co-mediations with a qualified mediator or five independent mediations and positive evaluations from a qualified trainer/evaluator; and (3) at least two references from two qualified mediators or trainer/evaluators.

What is a co-mediator? A co-mediator is trained in basic mediation skills but has limited mediation experience. SN maintains a registry of co-mediators and strives to provide them with mediation opportunities, thereby enhancing the mediator pool.

Who is the contact person for obtaining a mediator or joining the program? Agencies interested in joining or participating agencies may contact Martha Flores for mediator referrals at Martha.Flores@hhs.gov or by phone at (202) 565-0134.

What are the logistics for the process? The agency requests mediator referrals for a specific case. Sharing Neutrals provides the names and phone numbers of several mediators and co-mediators. Most referrals are made within two business days. The agency then contacts the mediators to determine their availability. Once the mediators are identified, the agency assists in scheduling the initial session. The agency also lets Sharing Neutrals know which mediators are handling the case. This process is repeated for each mediation.

Other commitments by participants. Every individual, and agency, participating in the Sharing Neutrals program agrees to abide by principles of confidentiality, as outlined in section 574 of the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act as amended in 1996 and the Sharing Neutrals Standards of Practice.

What final action takes place at the close of a case? Mediation agreements are generally reduced to writing and signed by the parties. If mediation ends without agreement, the case is referred to the requesting agency for the next steps in the agency processes; mediation does not limit other formal rights. At the close of mediation, the mediator provides the parties with evaluation forms and asks parties to return the forms to SN. For tracking purposes, SN asks mediators to report the outcome. To ensure confidentiality, SN receives no substantive details of the mediation.

Agreement to Mediate Form [PDF - 9k]*
Co-Mediator Profile Form [PDF - 13k]*
Lead Mediator Profile Form [PDF - 18k]*
Sharing Neutrals Policy Guidelines
Standards of Practice
Supervisor's Approval Form [PDF - 11k]*
User Survey Form [PDF - 75k]*

Last revised: July 16, 2004

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