ADR Roundtable - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 56, No. 3
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
One of the most exciting things that we’re doing right now is we are currently working with Lisa Bingham at the University of Indiana to do an evaluation of what’s going on, not just at the Department of Justice, but with respect to ADR in other federal agencies as well. We are for the first time, in essence, trying to make the business case for ADR.I’ve got someone on our staff who is working with us to see if we can’t justify for the first time to the Feds the financial benefits of creating dispute resolution systems, not just individual case by case.
Ms. Peterson: That will be published, I assume.
Mr. Steenland: It will.
Mr. Estreicher: I’m not responding to Charlie on employment, because Florence tells me we’re going to be talking about that. I just want to say one thing about Peter’s wonderful presentation about the government’s point of view.
It seems to me that the government has two interests. One is its interest as a litigant, which I think Peter has addressed quite well. The second is its interest in the overall adjudication system and here I think you want to look at the perspective of opponents of agency action, folks like BellSouth or Circuit City, large national companies, but actually lots of smaller employers and small companies that are confronted with agency action. Here I’m glad the government is moving down the mediation front, but also moving to a shorter system that doesn’t deplete the resources of these opponents of agency action.
I think that would promote the overall fairness of the system.
Mr. Steenland: That’s an interesting point, Sam. Just two weeks ago, the Department of the Air Force held a session in San Antonio. In attendance were some 300 Air Force officials in charge of government procurement. The purpose of this was to memorialize an event at which the Air Force was signing agreements with 25 or 30 of its most frequently used suppliers, and the goal is to impose a mediation regime on government contract disputes to resolve them as early as possible. It’s something equivalent to the CPR pledge where, as part of the contract, the contractor and the government will agree that if we have a dispute in this contract, we’re going to get to it right away.
As part of this, the Air Force JAG Corps has created a separate ADR team at Wright Patterson Air Force to deal simply with this issue. The government contracting officers are going to be monitored to see how long they allow these disputes to fester, and it is clearly a high priority of the Air Force base to get these matters resolved quickly, not just to preserve ongoing relationships, but to get them solved quickly and to save some money.