Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program for Whistleblower Reprisal Complaints

The Whistleblower Reprisal Investigations Directorate (WRI) offers alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for complaints filed by employees of non-appropriated fund instrumentalities and Department of Defense contractors, subcontractors, grantees, sub-grantees, and personal services contractors, as well as certain other qualified types of cases.

See Inspector General Instruction 5145.05, “Whistleblower Reprisal Alternative Dispute Resolution Program,” July 23, 2018

Patrick Gookin, Director, DoD OIG Hotline, and Nilgun Tolek, Director, Whistleblower Reprisal Investigations, discussed the alternative dispute resolution process with Federal News Network. Click here to listen to the interview.

What are the advantages to ADR?

  • Quicker than an investigation.
  • Less adversarial and more informal than an investigation or lawsuit.
  • Allows parties to control and customize the resolution of the complaint, instead of a third party decision-maker.
  • May improve working relationships.

What is ADR?

  • ADR is an informal, voluntary process in which parties may reach a resolution by using mediation or facilitated settlement negotiations prior to or during an otherwise lengthy investigation process.   
  • Mediation is a common ADR technique.  During a mediation, a third-party neutral facilitates communication between the parties in dispute to assist in reaching a mutually-agreeable resolution.


What is the ADR process in WRI?

  • The ADR process is facilitated by an ADR attorney (a third-party neutral), who assists the parties in resolving the complaint.
  • If both parties in a complaint (the complainant and employer) agree to participate in ADR, the ADR attorney works with the parties to facilitate negotiations or a mediation.
  • During this process, parties have the opportunity to explain their interests and concerns, explore possible solutions, and negotiate a resolution. 


How is the ADR attorney involved in the ADR process?

  • The ADR attorney is a third-party neutral and facilitates impartially to ensure a fair process.  As a neutral, the ADR attorney does not serve as an attorney representative for parties and participants. The ADR attorney also does not have any decision-making power and cannot impose an agreement on the parties.


Is the ADR process confidential?

  • ADR is a confidential process separate from an investigation.  The ADR attorney does not share information with the investigators who would otherwise be handling the complaint.
  • Once parties elect to participate in the ADR process, all written or oral communications made to the ADR attorney are kept confidential and used strictly for the purpose of ADR. 


If a complaint is already in the investigative process, can parties request ADR?

  • Yes, parties can request to participate in the ADR program during any stage of the investigative process.


What happens after the parties reach an agreement?

  • Once the parties reach a mutually agreeable resolution, the ADR attorney may help the parties draft a written settlement agreement.  The signed settlement agreement results in closure of the complaint.


What happens if the parties do not reach an agreement?

  • If parties do not reach an agreement, the case is transferred to investigative staff for evaluation or investigation.