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Use of ADR in Contact Disputes with the Government (From CPR Legal Program Proceedings, P 69-74, 1983 - See NCJ-96999)

NCJ Number
Date Published
6 pages
The process by which contract disputes with the government are resolved is described, and the need for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in government is considered.
The tight timetable of many ADR techniques is identified as being especially appealing. However, numerous problems with the Armed Forces Board of Contract Appeals, which was established as an ADR mechanism, are reported; for example, the board was set up to handle 900 cases per year, but last year had 1,702 cases, with no increase in staff. The possibility that there may be political pressure on government contract officers not to settle disputes is explored, and cases where ADR is useful or appropriate are identified. For instance, ADR is appropriate when a lot of time will be spent in getting to trial and when a range of settlement alternatives would be useful. Disincentives to ADR that must be overcome or minimized are delineated, including negative attitudes toward ADR held by staff attorneys at the Department of Justice, as well as by staff of other government agencies. Additionally, the problem of maintaining confidentiality must be addressed. Finally, the question of when to use ADR is considered, and the kinds of procedures that should be used are explored. In general, specific definitions of ADR mechanisms should be developed; as a management matter, people at the higher levels may offer their commitment, but unless the specifics are communicated to the line attorneys, ADR cannot be put into practice.


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