U.S. Office of Special Counsel

Cristina Fernandez and Reena Mittelman

Semester: 2012 Spring

Students: Reena Mittelman and Cristina Fernandez

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Its primary mission is to protect federal employees and others from “prohibited personnel practices” (PPP), including the deliberate targeting of whistleblowers for punishment.  Traditionally, mediation was offered in approximately 10-15% of the complaints referred for investigation.

In June, 2011, a new Special Counsel was sworn in who made re-establishing an active mediation program a top priority.  HNMCP students will study how to best fashion and staff these increased ADR options and formulate recommendations tailor-made for the unique climate of OSC. They will consider: what forms of ADR should be offered; how the OSC should involve the stakeholders in the ADR process other than occasional consumers; whether the OSC should offer an early neutral evaluation of cases;  what qualities and skills should mediators possess, and how the process should account for the disparity of information that each side possesses at an early stage in the mediation

Our Work

Gather information about the current case processing at OSC

  • Conduct stakeholder interviews
  • Interview OSC mediators and investigators regarding how the various types of cases/issues/personalities play out
  • Analyze potential barriers to ADR resolution and consider criteria for cases that should not go to ADR.
  • Analyze whether some cases should be resolved through mediation variations such as a hybrid early neutral evaluation/mediation
  • Identify areas of information necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of the ADR program, if deficiencies exist.

Final Product

  • Recommendations for increasing the effectiveness of OSC’s ADR program
  • Creative options for future growth and development of the program to meet identified goals
  • Final report and presentation to OSC Senior Staff
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