Alternative Dispute Resolution
If you have a dispute with a Rural Development agency, mediation may be available to help resolve it. The process is quick, cost-effective and intended to be mutually acceptable to all parties.
Mediation may be used to resolve adverse decisions in:
- Single-Family and Multi-Family Housing Programs
- Community Facilities Programs
- Business and Cooperative Programs
- Community Development Programs
- Water and Environmental Programs
- Utilities Programs
Mediation is not available for adverse decisions based on governing statutes, or if agency regulations exclude the decision from mediation.
"Uses an impartial, trained third-party expert to help all sides in a dispute look at the problem, identify options, consider possible solutions and agree on a resolution."
The Mediation Process
Mediation is independent of other Rural Development procedures. A trained, impartial, neutral person (the mediator) works with the customer and the Rural Development representative to discuss the reasons for an adverse decision, helps to identify and consider options, and assists in finding a voluntary solution. The mediator has no authoritative decision-making power.
Any mutually agreed to resolution, which has been signed by both parties, is considered a binding contract supported by both State and Federal law.
When the Rural Development program area issues an adverse decision concerning the use of a program resource (loan, grant or technical assistance), mediation is an option to clarify and resolve a dispute with the customer. Adverse decisions include:
- Denial of equitable relief.
- Failure to issue a decision
- Failure to act on a request or right of the participant
- Failure to act within timeframes specified by agency program statuses or regulations
- Failure to act within a reasonable time if timeframes are not specified
For information on how to use customer / program mediation, contact your Rural Development State Office
There may be a cost associated with mediation. Any costs are shared equally between the customer and Rural Development. In most cases, the cost for both parties is less than $100. Complex cases will cost more. Most mediators will be able to estimate the costs before mediation begins.
Vision. Rural Development is perceived by internal and external individuals as an organization that values their employees and presents a customer friendly face to those who seek and receive assistance from the various programs.
Mission. To help enhance Rural Development's organizational culture:
- To understand that conflict is a normal component in the ongoing process of employee interactions, and in carrying out program responsibilities
- To use established mediation procedures to resolve adverse decisions with the Rural Development customer
- To resolve workplace conflict by the use of constructive early intervention and established mediation procedures
The following laws and regulations, among others, authorize Rural Development's use of mediation as a form of alternative dispute resolution:
Mediation for Rural Development Employees
Rural Development's Alternative Dispute Resolution unit also manages employee and workplace mediations, including Workplace, Informal Grievance, Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights issues. For further information, call (202) 692-0359 or (202) 692-0359.
This is a separate program from the customer / program mediation process.