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Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Office of the Director

Alternative Dispute Resolution & Conflict Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Mailstop D-67
Atlanta, GA 30333
(404) 371-5470

What Is ADR? | Mediation | Training | Neutral Fact-Finding
Facilitation | Conciliation | Early Intervention

What Is ADR?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a collection of processes used for the purpose of resolving conflict or disputes informally and confidentially. ADR provides alternatives to traditional processes, such as grievances and complaints; however, it does not displace those traditional processes. The ADR Office is a resource available to all CDC and ATSDR employees. The ADR Office is a resource when you need advice about how to deal directly with a concern, you are uncertain about taking a problem through other established channels, are not sure who to talk with about a problem or concern, want an informal, nonescalating approach, need a fresh, impartial perspective, want to discuss strategies or possible options for resolving a concern and if you want to maintain the greatest possible flexibility in how to approach a concern or simply need a sounding board.

ADR is generally voluntary. However, at CDC and ATSDR managers and supervisors are strongly encouraged to participate in ADR processes when employees choose this mechanism for resolution of work place disputes. ADR empowers and enables the participating parties to develop and seek mutually acceptable solutions, which they choose to meet their needs. Generally, ADR uses a neutral third party to help the parties communicate, develop ideas and resolve the dispute.

Some reasons for using ADR are that it is faster, less costly, easier, less formality involved, less confrontational or adversarial, it encourages creativity and searching for practical solutions, it avoids the unpredictability involved when decisions are rendered as a result of the traditional dispute resolution mechanisms. The ADR process usually results in improved communications between disputing parties and is therefore better for ongoing relationships, increases workplace morale and can make you feel better about coming to work, results in participant satisfaction, solutions tend to be durable or long lasting since they have the “buy in” of all parties involved, publicity is avoided and most importantly, the parties retain control of the outcome. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE by using ADR since all statutory entitlements remain in tact.

Contacts with the ADR Office are strictly confidential. 
The CDC and ATSDR has a team of professionals with experience managing conflict, whether it occurs in the work place between organizations, or with other customers. The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) team can help with problem solving or building communication skills to enhance individual or team performance.

Call (404) 371-5917/18 to obtain more information or to speak with a staff member.

CDC/ATSDR Policy on Alternative Dispute Resolution

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The mediation process is available to employees when conflict arises in an office and there is a need for a third person to provide assistance to help resolve the issues. The process is voluntary and must be agreed upon by all parties involved. If the employee is a member of a Bargaining Unit, the Union must approve the use of ADR. Employees who are members of the Bargaining Unit are asked to provide an e-mail to the Union, with a copy to the ADR Office, indicating that they are consulting with the ADR office in resolving a workplace issue. All participants in ADR processes are entitled to representation.

Mediation provides an opportunity to resolve disputes with an impartial mediator who helps identify and communicate the interests of the parties, identify mutual interests, and manage expectations. It can be particularly useful when communication has broken down or emotions are intense. The mediation process is confidential and confidentiality of the information discussed during the mediation is protected by statute. The mediator does not impose a decision for the parties, but assists the parties in reaching their own mutually acceptable resolution.

Parties requiring assistance should contact the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) office to request intervention/assistance. The ADR office will assure that all parties to the mediation understand the process and that they are willing to participate in mediation. A mediator, or neutral third party, is selected by the ADR office. Once selected, the mediator will contact the parties to schedule the mediation.

During mediation, the parties will have a chance to describe the situation and to provide information from their experience and perspective.

Using a variety of techniques and skills, the mediator will aid the parties in exploring the cause of the dispute, identifying the issues, and assessing alternatives for resolution.
The mediator may request a private meeting called a caucus, where the mediator meets with each party privately to explore options for conflict resolution.

If an agreement is reached, the mediator will help draft a resolution agreement that all parties will sign. When signed by the parties the agreement is binding.

If the parties are unable to reach agreement, the issue may be referred to another dispute mechanism such as the EEO or grievance process since statutory entitlements to use these traditional mechanisms are not affected by use of ADR processes.
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  • Conflict Resolution Skills Training for Managers
  • Conflict Resolution Skills Training for Individuals
  • Team Building
  • Communication
  • Collaboration Development
  • Consultation Services including:
    • ADR Design
    • Organizational Development/Systems Design
    • Partnering Opportunities

These training sessions are designed to teach you how to face conflict, communicate better with others and identify appropriate actions necessary to effectively manage and resolve issues. Training sessions may also be tailored to meet specific work place situations.


Call (404) 371-5917/18 to obtain more information or to speak with a staff member.

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Neutral fact-finding involves the use of a neutral third party who investigates/determines a disputed fact. This process is usually used for technical issues or in instances when significant factual issues are part of a larger dispute. Parties may negotiate to be bound or not bound by the fact-finding results. 

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Facilitation is a group process which is goal-oriented. The facilitator directs traffic, elicits views, clarifies, records significant data but is usually not involved in substantive issues. The facilitator is frequently seen as a “shadow leader”. The task is to stay in the background with little direct involvement in activities, but to see that the right things happen. The facilitator’s task is not to try to keep mistakes from being made, but, if possible, the facilitator should help the team avoid outright disaster. In this role, the facilitator may at times be a teacher, counselor, mediator, a support-seeker for the team, a resource finder, and at times simply a housekeeper – making sure that the immediate environment does not distract from the successful operation of the team.

In none of the roles, should the facilitator dominate the operation. Success should be measured largely by the degree to which teams function effectively, while they remain as independent as possible and do not require facilitator direct involvement to succeed.

Perhaps the most important task for the facilitator is to facilitate communication in a manner that will help teams grow and mature to the point where they are largely self-facilitating and need to call for assistance only in emergency situations.

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Conciliation is a relatively informal and unstructured process. During the conciliation process, neutrality and confidentiality are not usually guaranteed as the intervener is acting as an intermediary to promote improved communication and working relationships. Conciliation often is a “cooling off” forum where the conciliator may offer advice, perspectives and suggestions to deescalate a conflict.

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Early Intervention

It is expected that conflict will arise between and among employees, their supervisors, and/or managers. However, unresolved conflicts can reduce the ability to get work done. Therefore, CDC/ATSDR provides an avenue for the reduction of conflict in the workplace through the use of early intervention techniques including facilitated individual or group meetings, conciliation meetings, informal fact-finding or mediation.

Addressing conflict in the work place at an early stage increases the probability that the conflict will be successfully resolved.

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This page last reviewed March 6, 2002

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Office of the Director
Alternative Dispute Resolution and Conflict Prevention