About the Merit Systems Protection Board
The MSPB Mediation Appeals Program
Several years ago, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) began a new program to settle disputes known as the MSPB Mediation Appeals Program (MAP). MAP provides the parties to an MSPB appeal with the opportunity to settle their dispute without a formal hearing.
How the MSPB Mediation Appeals Program Works
Before the mediation can begin, both parties need to sign the Mediation Appeals Program Agreement to Mediate Form that can be obtained from the administrative law judge assigned to the case, or the Regional Operations Coordinator. Once the parties sign the form, they will be contacted by a trained and certified MAP mediator. The mediator will schedule the mediation for a mutually agreed upon time and place.
All mediation sessions are unique. Mediators may use different approved styles of mediation to help the parties come to an agreement, for example. However, while the details of the mediation session and the way in which the sessions are run are unique, the objectives and principles are the same. The mediator acts as a neutral third party to help the parties come to a satisfactory resolution to their dispute. The mediator will help each party define its position and proposed settlement terms. The mediator will then work with the parties to come to an agreement regarding settlement terms. At the completion of the mediation, the parties will either have negotiated a settlement agreement that will be referred back to the administrative law judge as a settled appeal, or the parties will resume the formal MSPB adjudication process if no agreement was reached.
The Benefits of the Merit Systems Protection Board Mediation Appeals Program
There are many benefits to the MPSB MAP program including:
• Fast Resolution of Issues: An MSPB mediation can result in an agreement within a few hours or days. This is a comparatively short time when you consider that it often takes several months to resolve a dispute through the formal MSPB appeals process.
• Cost: If you are represented by an attorney then it is less expensive to mediate than go to a formal appeal because mediation typically requires fewer attorney hours to prepare for and attend than a formal appeal.
• Confidentiality: The information shared in mediation is confidential while the information shared in an MSPB appeals hearing is public.
• Control: The parties must approve and sign a mediation agreement. They do not retain this control in an MSPB appeals hearing where the administrative judge issues the final decision that does not require party approval.
• Maintaining a Positive Relationship Between the Parties: If it is the intent of the parties to continue to work together after the resolution of the MSPB appeal, then it is important to keep the appeal process from becoming too adversarial and damaging the working relationship between the parties. Mediation allows the parties to work together to come to a mutually satisfactory dispute resolution, and may set the stage for open communication and better working relationships in the future.
For these reasons, the MSPB MAP program is a popular choice
for many appellants and agencies. If you have any questions
about the MAP process or its benefits, you should consult with
your MSPB attorney who will counsel you on the pros and cons of
each option and help you achieve your goals.