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(13) "agency action" includes the whole or a part of an agency rule, order, license, sanction, relief, or the equivalent or denial thereof, or failure to act; and
(14) “ex parte communication” means an oral or written. communication not on the public record with respect to which reasonable prior notice to all parties is not given, but it shall not include requests for status reports on any matter or proceeding covered by this subchapter.
SUBCHAPTER IV-ALTERNATIVE MEANS OF DISPUTE
$ 571. Definitions
For the purposes of this subchapter, the term
2 Sections 2 and 3 of the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act (P.L. 101–552), which originally enacted this subchapter, provide: SEC. 2. [5 U.S.C. 581 note] FINDINGS. The Congress finds that
(1) administrative procedure, as embodied in chapter 5 of title 5, United States Code, and other statutes, is intended to offer a prompt, expert, and inexpensive means of resolving disputes as an alternative to litigation in the Federal courts;
(2) administrative proceedings have become increasingly formal, costly, and lengthy resulting in unnecessary expenditures of time and in a decreased likelihood of achieving consensual resolution of disputes;
(3) alternative means of dispute resolution have been used in the private sector for many years and, in appropriate circumstances, have yielded decisions that are faster, less expensive, and less contentious;
(4) such alternative means can lead to more creative, efficient, and sensible outcomes;
(5) such alternative means may be used advantageously in a wide variety of administrative programs;
(6) explicit authorization of the use of well-tested dispute resolution techniques will eliminate ambiguity of agency authority under existing law;
(7) Federal agencies may not only receive the benefit of techniques that were developed in the private sector, but may also take the lead in the further development and refinement of such techniques; and
(8) the availability of a wide range of dispute resolution procedures, and an increased understanding of the most effective use of such procedures, will enhance the operation of the
Government and better serve the public. SEC. 3. [5 U.S.C. 581 note) PROMOTION OF ALTERNATIVE MEANS OF DISPUTE
RESOLUTION. (a) PROMULGATION OF AGENCY POLICY.—Each agency shall adopt a policy that addresses the use of alternative means of dispute resolution and case management. In developing such a policy, each agency shall
(1) consult with the Administrative Conference of the United States and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service; and (2) examine alternative means of resolving disputes in connection with
(A) formal and informal adjudications;
(G) other agency actions. (b) DISPUTE RESOLUTION SPECIALISTS.—The head of each agency shall designate a senior official to be the dispute resolution specialist of the agency. Such official shall be responsible for the implementation of,
(1) the provisions of this Act and the amendments made by this Act; and
(c) TRAINING.- Each agency shall provide for training on a regular basis for the dispute resolution specialist of the agency and other employees involved in implementing the policy of the agency developed under subsection (a). Such training should encompass the theory and practice of negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or related techniques. The dispute resolution specialist shall periodically recommend to the agency head agency employees who would benefit from similar training.
(1) “agency” has the same meaning as in section 551(1) of this title;
(2) “administrative program” includes a Federal function which involves protection of the public interest and the determination of rights, privileges, and obligations of private persons through rule making, adjudication, licensing, or investigation, as those terms are used in subchapter II of this chapter;
(3) “alternative means of dispute resolution" means any procedure that is used to resolve issues in controversy, including, but not limited to, conciliation, facilitation, mediation, factfinding, minitrials, arbitration, and use of ombuds, or any combination thereof;
(4) "award" means any decision by an arbitrator resolving the issues in controversy;
(5) "dispute resolution communication” means any oral or written communication prepared for the purposes of a dispute resolution proceeding, including any memoranda, notes or work product of the neutral, parties or nonparty participant; except that a written agreement to enter into a dispute resolution proceeding, or final written agreement or arbitral award reached as a result of a dispute resolution proceeding, is not a dispute resolution communication;
(6) "dispute resolution proceeding" means any process in which an alternative means of dispute resolution is used to resolve an issue in controversy in which a neutral is appointed and specified parties participate;
(7) “in confidence” means, with respect to information, that the information is provided
(A) with the expressed intent of the source that it not be disclosed; or
(B) under circumstances that would create the reasonable expectation on behalf of the source that the information will not be disclosed;
(8) "issue in controversy" means an issue which is material to a decision concerning an administrative program of an agency, and with which there is disagreement,
(A) between an agency and persons who would be substantially affected by the decision; or
(B) between persons who would be substantially affected by the decision;
(9) “neutral” means an individual who, with respect to an issue in controversy, functions specifically to aid the parties in resolving the controversy; (10) “party' means
(A) for a proceeding with named parties, the same as in section 551(3) of this title; and
(d) PROCEDURES FOR GRANTS AND CONTRACTS.
(1) Each agency shall review each of its standard agreements for contracts, grants, and other assistance and shall determine whether to amend any such standard agreements to authorize and encourage the use of alternative means of dispute resolution.
(2)(A) Within 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Federal Acquisition Regulation shall be amended, as necessary, to carry out this Act and the amendmenis made by this Act.
(B) For purposes of this section, the term “Federal Acquisition Regulation" means the single system of Government-wide procurement regulation referred to in section 6(a) of the Of fice of Federal Procurement Policy Act (41 U.S.Č. 405(a)).
(B) for a proceeding without named parties, a person who will be significantly affected by the decision in the proceeding and who participates in the proceeding;
(11) “person” has the same meaning as in section 551(2) of this title; and
(12) "roster" means a list of persons qualified to provide services as neutrals. $572. General authority
(a) An agency may use a dispute resolution proceeding for the resolution of an issue in controversy that relates to an administrative program, if the parties agree to such proceeding.
(b) An agency shall consider not using a dispute resolution proceeding if
(1) a definitive or authoritative resolution of the matter is required for precedential value, and such a proceeding is not likely to be accepted generally as an authoritative precedent;
(2) the matter involves or may bear upon significant questions of Government policy that require additional procedures before a final resolution may be made, and such a proceeding would not likely serve to develop a recommended policy for the agency;
(3) maintaining established policies is of special importance, so that variations among individual decisions are not increased and such a proceeding would not likely reach consistent results among individual decisions;
(4) the matter significantly affects persons or organizations who are not parties to the proceeding;
(5) a full public record of the proceeding is important, and a dispute resolution proceeding cannot provide such a record; and
(6) the agency must maintain continuing jurisdiction over the matter with authority to alter the disposition of the matter in the light of changed circumstances, and a dispute resolution proceeding would interfere with the agency's fulfilling that requirement.
(c) Alternative means of dispute resolution authorized under this subchapter are voluntary procedures which supplement rather than limit other available agency dispute resolution techniques. $ 573. Neutrals
(a) A neutral may be a permanent or temporary officer or employee of the Federal Government or any other individual who is acceptable to the parties to a dispute resolution proceeding. A neutral shall have no official, financial, or personal conflict of interest with respect to the issues in controversy, unless such interest is fully disclosed in writing to all parties and all parties agree that the neutral may serve.
(b) A neutral who serves as a conciliator, facilitator, or mediator serves at the will of the parties.
(c) The President shall designate an agency or designate or establish an interagency committee to facilitate and encourage agency use of dispute resolution under this subchapter. Such agency or interagency committee, in consultation with other appropriate Federal agencies and professional organizations experienced in matters concerning dispute resolution, shall
(1) encourage and facilitate agency use of alternative means of dispute resolution; and
(2) develop procedures that permit agencies to obtain the services of neutrals on an expedited basis.
(d) An agency may use the services or one or more employees of other agencies to serve as neutrals in dispute resolution proceedings. The agencies may enter into an interagency agreement that provides for the reimbursement by the user agency or the parties of the full or partial cost of the services of such an employee.
(e) Any agency may enter into a contract with any person for services as a neutral, or for training in connection with alternative means of dispute resolution. The parties in a dispute resolution proceeding shall agree on compensation for the neutral that is fair and reasonable to the Government. $574. Confidentiality
(a) Except as provided in subsections (d) and (e), a neutral in a dispute resolution proceeding shall not voluntarily disclose or through discovery or compulsory process be required to disclose any dispute resolution communication or any communication provided in confidence to the neutral, unless
(1) all parties to the dispute resolution proceeding and the neutral consent in writing, and, if the dispute resolution communication was provided by a nonparty participant, that participant also consents in writing;
(2) the dispute resolution communication has already been made public;
(3) the dispute resolution communication is required by statute to be made public, but a neutral should make such communication public only if no other person is reasonably available to disclose the communication; or
(4) a court determines that such testimony or disclosure is necessary to
(A) prevent a manifest injustice;
(C) prevent harm to the public health or safety,
their communications will remain confidential. (b) A party to a dispute resolution proceeding shall not voluntarily disclose or through discovery or compulsory process be required to disclose any dispute resolution communications unless
(1) the communication was prepared by the party seeking disclosure;
(2) all parties to the dispute resolution proceeding consent in writing;
(3) the dispute resolution communication has already been made public;
(4) the dispute resolution communication is required by statute to be made public;
(5) a court determines that such testimony or disclosure is necessary to
(A) prevent a manifest injustice;
(C) prevent harm to the public health and safety,
(6) the dispute resolution communication is relevant to determining the existence or meaning of an agreement or award that resulted from the dispute resolution communication or to the enforcement of such an agreement or award; or
(7) except for dispute resolution communications generated by the neutral, the dispute resolution communication was provided to or was available to all parties to the dispute resolution proceeding.
(c) Any dispute resolution communication that is disclosed in violation of subsection (a) or (b), 3 shall not be admissible in any proceeding relating to the issues in controversy with respect to which the communication was made.
(d)(1) The parties may agree to alternative confidential procedures for disclosures by a neutral. Upon such agreement the parties shall inform the neutral before the commencement of the dispute resolution proceeding of any modifications to the provisions of subsection (a) that will govern the confidentiality of the dispute resolution proceeding. If the parties do not so inform the neutral, subsection (a) shall apply.
(2) To qualify for the exemption established under subsection (j), an alternative confidential procedure under this subsection may not provide for less disclosure than the confidential procedures otherwise provided under this section.
(e) If a demand for disclosure, by way of discovery request or other legal process, is made upon a neutral regarding a dispute resolution communication, the neutral shall make reasonable efforts to notify the parties and any affected nonparty participants of the demand. Any party or affected nonparty participant who receives such notice and within 15 calendar days does not offer to defend a refusal of the neutral to disclose the requested information shall have waived any objection to such disclosure.
(f) Nothing in this section shall prevent the discovery or admissibility of any evidence that is otherwise discoverable, merely because the evidence was presented in the course of a dispute resolution proceeding
(g) Subsections (a) and (b) shall have no effect on the information and data that are necessary to document an agreement reached or order issued pursuant to a dispute resolution proceeding.
(h) Subsections (a) and (b) shall not prevent the gathering of information for research or educational purposes, in cooperation with other agencies, governmental entities, or dispute resolution
3 So in law. Comma probably is unnecessary.