U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Dec 07, 2023
The purpose of this subpart is to describe mediation procedures which Federal and State agencies may use to attempt to resolve serious disagreements which arise during the administration of approved management programs.
The availability of mediation does not preclude use by the parties of alternative means for resolving their disagreement. In the event a serious disagreement arises, the parties are strongly encouraged to make every effort to resolve the disagreement informally. OCRM shall be available to assist the parties in these efforts.
(a) The Secretary or other head of a Federal agency, or the Governor or the State agency, may notify the Secretary in writing of the existence of a serious disagreement, and may request that the Secretary seek to mediate the disagreement. A copy of the written request must be sent to the agency with which the requesting agency disagrees, to the Assistant Administrator, and to the Director.
(b) Within 15 days following receipt of a request for mediation the disagreeing agency shall transmit a written response to the Secretary, and to the agency requesting mediation, indicating whether it wishes to participate in the mediation process. If the disagreeing agency declines the offer to enter into mediation efforts, it must indicate the basis for its refusal in its response. Upon receipt of a refusal to participate in mediation efforts, the Secretary shall seek to persuade the disagreeing agency to reconsider its decision and enter into mediation efforts. If the disagreeing agencies do not all agree to participate, the Secretary will cease efforts to provide mediation assistance.
(a) If the parties agree to the mediation process, the Secretary shall appoint a hearing officer who shall schedule a hearing in the local area concerned. The hearing officer shall give the parties at least 30 days notice of the time and place set for the hearing and shall provide timely public notice of the hearing.
(b) At the time public notice is provided, the Federal and State agencies shall provide the public with convenient access to public data and information related to the serious disagreement.
(c) Hearings shall be informal and shall be conducted by the hearing officer with the objective of securing in a timely fashion information related to the disagreement. The Federal and State agencies, as well as other interested parties, may offer information at the hearing subject to the hearing officer's supervision as to the extent and manner of presentation. A party may also provide the hearing officer with written comments. Hearings will be recorded and the hearing officer shall provide transcripts and copies of written information offered at the hearing to the Federal and State agency parties. The public may inspect and copy the transcripts and written information provided to these agencies.
(a) Following the close of the hearing, the hearing officer shall transmit the hearing record to the Secretary. Upon receipt of the hearing record, the Secretary shall schedule a mediation conference to be attended by representatives from the Office of the Secretary, the disagreeing Federal and State agencies, and any other interested parties whose participation is deemed necessary by the Secretary. The Secretary shall provide the parties at least 10 days notice of the time and place set for the mediation conference.
(b) Secretarial mediation efforts shall last only so long as the Federal and State agencies agree to participate. The Secretary shall confer with the Executive Office of the President, as necessary, during the mediation process.
Mediation shall terminate:
(a) At any time the Federal and State agencies agree to a resolution of the serious disagreement,
(b) If one of the agencies withdraws from mediation,
(c) In the event the agencies fail to reach a resolution of the disagreement within 15 days following Secretarial conference efforts, and the agencies do not agree to extend mediation beyond that period, or
(d) For other good cause.
The availability of the mediation services provided in this subpart is not intended expressly or implicitly to limit the parties' use of alternate forums to resolve disputes. Specifically, judicial review where otherwise available by law may be sought by any party to a serious disagreement without first having exhausted the mediation process provided for in this subpart.