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Indiana Agency Shared Neutrals Program

Neutrals > Memorandum of Understanding Memorandum of Understanding

2005 Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Interagency Shared Neutrals Program for Mediation

This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishes the Interagency Shared Neutrals Program among the undersigned agencies.

State agencies may engage in mediation. Mediation is defined as: "a process in which a neutral third person, called a mediator, acts to encourage and to assist in the resolution of a dispute between two (2) or more parties….The objective is to help the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement between or among themselves on all or any part of the issues in dispute. Decision making power rests with the parties, not the mediator. The mediator assists the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem-solving, exploring settlement alternatives, and in other ways consistent with these activities." (Indiana Rules for Alternative Dispute Resolution, Rule 1.3)

Benefits of a Shared Neutrals Program
A Shared Neutrals Program can provide the basic structure to encourage mediation as a method of alternative dispute resolution. In Indiana, the Shared Neutrals program allows state agencies to share the expertise of trained mediators among agencies. Under the Shared Neutrals Program, each agency is able to request and use mediators from other participating agencies; additionally, each agency makes its mediators available to other agencies. Through this interagency agreement state agencies may take advantage of external expertise and resources, on a reciprocal basis, without additional expense.

The Interagency Shared Neutrals Program has many benefits, including:

  • Mediation empowers citizens and agency employees by enhancing their understanding of the dispute while increasing their ability to influence the outcome;
  • Mediation provides additional opportunities for citizens and agency employees to interact, diffuse conflict, and build more productive working relationships;
  • Mediation becomes more readily accessible for agencies and private parties that cannot afford to hire private mediators;

  • The perception of mediator impartiality is enhanced when a mediator comes from an agency that is neither a party nor the ultimate authority for a particular dispute;
  • Parties are more likely to agree to mediation where they are assured of participation by a mediator who is (and gives the appearance of being) neutral, and where access to a mediator's services is without additional cost to them;
  • Opportunities for agency personnel to use and refine their mediation and negotiation training and skills are increased.

Appropriateness of Cases for Mediation
This MOU applies to:

  1. any proceeding that an ultimate authority has determined under IC 4-21.5-3.5-2 to be appropriate for mediation;
  2. any matter that is exempt from IC 4-21.5 but where the agency elects to use mediation under IC 4-21.5-3.5-1; and
  3. prior to a proceeding being initiated, any dispute to which an agency and a person who may be the subject of an agency action agrees.

Qualifications of Mediator
Each neutral must qualify as a mediator under IC 4-21.5-3.5-8. Each neutral shall provide a statement of qualifications to Steve Lucas of the NRC. In addition, each neutral shall provide information regarding his or her preferences for the type of proceeding he or she will mediate and the counties in which he or she is willing to mediate disputes.

Administration
Agencies will contact Steve Lucas of NRC to request a neutral under this MOU.

Selection of Mediator
Mediators may be chosen based on agreement by the mediating parties. In the absence of a specific request for or agreement upon a certain mediator, the administrative law judge assigned to the proceeding will determine the mediator, in accordance with IC 4-21.5-3.5-6.

Agency/Neutral Participation
Participation in this MOU does not require a neutral or an agency to participate in a particular mediation.

Costs and Expenses
Participation in a particular mediation will be at no additional cost to the mediating agency. Although the services of the mediator are made available under this agreement at no cost to the requesting agency, any travel expenses of the mediator will be covered by the requesting agency. Travel expenses will be reimbursed in accordance with the State Travel Policies and Procedures as specified in the current Financial Management Circular. The mediating agency shall incur no additional external costs.

Mediation Agreement
A Mediation Agreement will be available for consideration and possible use by the neutral and the mediating parties. This agreement provides a general framework and iterates the impartiality of the neutral and the confidentiality of the mediation session.

Term of MOU
This MOU shall become effective upon the signature of two (2) or more agencies. This MOU shall be effective for five (5) years from the effective date and may be extended by mutual written agreement of the parties.

Termination
Any agency or neutral may terminate its commitment under this MOU by providing written notice to Steve Lucas.

Execution of agreement
Multiple copies of this agreement may be executed in counterpart in lieu of a fully executed original.