U.S. Office of Special Counsel

Semester: 2020 Spring

Students: Kira Hessekiel & Sean Tannenbaum

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency whose authorities come from four federal statutes: the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). The Alternative Dispute Resolution Unit’s Mediation Program mediates Prohibited Personnel Practice (Civil Service Reform and Whistleblower Protection Act) and, infrequently, USERRA cases.

HNMCP conducted consultation projects with OSC’s ADR Unit in the spring of 2012 and 2013, and the fall of 2015. HNMCP also conducted an OSC-wide project in the fall of 2013. The ADR Unit projects assessed a number of program issues including the convening process, selection criteria, confidentiality, evaluative techniques, mediator staffing and web site content. OSC continues to make policy and program decisions based upon prior HNMCP analysis and recommendations. 

Before travelling to mediate a case, we need to ascertain that there is a reasonable likelihood that mediation could lead to a settlement.  This is simply a by-product of limited travel funds. In our efforts to make that determination, we talk multiple times with the parties prior to mediation.  Those talks often lead to a shuttle-style facilitation of a settlement. The current project will study the mediation modalities OSC mediators use and make recommendations as to which is the most effective under various scenarios. 

Activities & Deliverables

  • Interview stakeholders: OSC mediators, OSC mediation program supervisors, parties and attorneys to past mediations
  • Speak with mediators/mediation program administrators who mediate legal disputes primarily by video or telephone
  • Speak with mediators/mediation program administrators who resolve legal disputes primarily with “shuttle negotiation.”
  • Written report with findings and recommendations
  • Oral presentation of findings
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