U.S. Department of Transportation/Volpe National Transportation System Center

Barbara Sobowska and Danielle Bart

Semester: 2012 Spring

Students: Barbara Sobowska and Danielle Bart

The Volpe Center is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and is an innovative, fee-for-service organization. Its mission is to improve the nation’s transportation system.

Work is performed for USDOT, as well as other Federal, state, local, and international agencies and entities. The Volpe Center is working with Federal Railroad Administration to implement and evaluate a confidential reporting system for “close calls” to help the U.S. railroad industry identify safety hazards, information about risks that would otherwise not be known, and develop solutions. The development of this system involves building trust to encourage the disclosure of close calls and has been used successfully in other industries.

Included in this reporting system is a dispute resolution process for addressing conflicts that might arise during the operation of the system.  This process has worked with varying degrees of effectiveness and Volpe has asked HNMCP to assess it and suggest a new, creative dispute resolution approach that would do the job more effectively, as well as better prepare for further conflicts that inevitably occur down the road.

Our Work:

  • Conduct an assessment of the project thus far
  • Conduct interviews with project consulting team and stakeholders.
  • Develop a more robust  model of dispute resolution process

Final Product:

  • Propose a dispute resolution process that would increase the opportunity for collaboration with Volpe and ensure alignment with the “close call” system
  • Test the process at a user site if a dispute arises when the project is underway
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