U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution
U. S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution is a Federal program established by the U. S. Congress to assist parties in resolving environmental, natural resource, and public lands conflicts. The Institute is part of the Morris K. Udall Foundation, an independent Federal agency of the executive branch overseen by a board of trustees appointed by the President. The Institute serves as an impartial, non-partisan institution providing professional expertise, services, and resources to all parties involved in such disputes, regardless of who initiates or pays for assistance. The Institute helps parties determine whether collaborative problem solving is appropriate for specific environmental conflicts, how and when to bring all the parties to the table, and whether a third-party facilitator or mediator might be helpful in assisting the parties in their efforts to reach consensus or to resolve the conflict.
The provision of third party neutrals to provide professional assistance in managing conflict and resolving disputes is a principal component of the FHWA's National Dispute Resolution System. The U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR) assembled a panel of qualified facilitators and mediators to help the resource agencies obtain the services of these independent neutrals. The USIECR maintains a National Roster of Environmental Dispute Resolution and Consensus Building Professionals, and has assembled the Sub-Roster of Transportation Mediators and Facilitators (Transportation Roster). The Transportation Roster members are professionals with expertise in facilitating environmental reviews of transportation projects and mediating disputes that arise from such reviews. They received training on the USDOT's Environmental Streamlining efforts and the dispute resolution strategies presented in this document.
Transportation Roster membership covers a wide geographic area, with most states having at least one member. Contracting for the services of a member involves contacting the USIECR, describing the location of the project, the need for a facilitator or mediator, and working with USIECR staff to obtain profiles of candidate practitioners, and making a selection.
Rapid selection is obviously a critical need in order to start or restart the negotiation process or to resolve a dispute to maintain momentum and meet project timelines. Note that Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR, Section 6.302 and 41 USC 253(c)399(c)) exempt the hiring of certain experts and neutrals used in dispute resolution from "full and open competition." This can expedite the procurement process. The mechanics of using the USIECR's services and contracting for a transportation mediator or facilitator are described on their website at www.ecr.gov. The cost of contracting can be covered by project funds.