The work of the Committee on ADR within Government Agencies, chaired by Christopher Man Kwok and Cheryl R. Howard, is focused on the use of alternatives to litigation and/or trial of disputes with federal, state, and local agencies and municipalities, including (but not limited to) disputes involving zoning, environmental, and similar issues. Such alternatives include but are not limited to arbitration and mediation. According to current statistics, a total of approximately 200,000 lawsuits are filed each year throughout the United States by or against governmental entities at the federal, state and local levels. Countless other disputes of this type are resolved prior to litigation. Hence, there is an enormous opportunity for expanding the use of ADR into these areas.
Currently, there is an ongoing project within this Committee, which has received inputs from related Committees on arbitration, legislation and ADR in the Courts, dealing with proposed legislation and court rules for the introduction of plaintiff-initiated, court-mandated, forum-administered arbitration of civil actions against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia filed for judicial review of adverse administrative decisions of the agency. If enacted, such legislation could serve as a template for similar legislation in other government agency litigation contexts.