New Mediator Information System
An important objective of the Judicial System is the development of an array of dispute resolution options for the courts. In an effort to support and advance the field of alternative dispute resolution, it is critical that information regarding the mediation services provided to the courts be captured. This information, once translated into reports that describe the value of mediation to the courts, litigants and the State, can be used to support additional requests for funding. In addition, this data may better inform the Judicial Council as policy decisions are made related to alternative dispute resolution in Virginia. This information may also be instructive to the dispute resolution community in Virginia and around the country.
In order to capture relevant data for purposes of creating informational reports, a new Mediator Information System (MIS) is being developed by the Management Information Systems Department of the Office of the Executive Secretary on the Internet. This MIS program will be found on the Supreme Court of Virginia's home page at www.courts.state.va.us. Detailed instructions regarding how to use the system will be mailed to all certified mediators in December.
In short, mediators will be given a unique passcode, which must be typed in before data may be entered into the system. Following every court-referred mediation, mediators will be asked to input date into this system regarding the mediations conducted. The entry of data is voluntary, but the hope is that all mediators providing services to the courts will take the time to enter information into this system as it will be a more accurate information system and the reports generated from this system will benefit the entire dispute resolution community. In the future, data entry may become mandatory for some groups of mediators, such as those holding a contract with the Supreme Court to provide mediation services to the courts. A future goal is to have the MIS system also serve as an invoicing mechanism.
The data sought is straightforward and will not violate the confidentiality requirements protecting mediation. If all data elements are not completed, a mediator will not be able to submit the information. If an error is made in entering data, or a question is skipped over, the system will identify the problem. In addition, the system will not allow mediators to enter information regarding the same case twice. An extensive "Help" link is available for assistance in completing the questions asked. If a Community Mediation Center or other organization would like to enter data following court-referred mediations on behalf of volunteers or staff, that will be acceptable. This system will not be used in and of itself to track the work of individual mediators.
It is our hope that the new MIS system will be easy to use and understand. Once sufficient data is entered into the system, the reports generated will hopefully enable the Office of the Executive Secretary to provide persuasive data to the Judiciary, Bar, and Legislature regarding the effectiveness of mediation.
Over the last two years, the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution ("SPIDR"), the Academy of Family Mediators ("AFM"), and the Conflict Resolution Education Network ("CREnet"), formerly the National Association for Mediators in Education ("NAME") and the successor to the National Institute for Dispute Resolution ("NIDR") have been working together towards a merger. A Transition Group, comprised of board members of each organization and the executive directors of each organization, put together a Business Plan and grant proposal for foundation funding for the merger.
At meetings held on September 16th at the annual SPIDR Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, all three organizations voted with overwhelming support to merge and signed an agreement to do so. Subsequently, on October 16th, the Board of Directors of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation awarded AFM, CREnet, and SPIDR a 2.45 million dollar grant to merge the three organizations into a single new organization, to be located in Washington, DC in early January 2001. This grant is the largest ever awarded by the Hewlett Foundation Conflict Resolution Program.
The mission of the soon to be named merged organization is promoting peaceful, effective conflict resolution. An estimated one million dollars of this grant will be used for marketing the new organization and promoting the awareness and use of conflict resolution to current members, future members and the general public. Their goal is to be the premier membership organization in the field of conflict resolution and to educate the public about the use of conflict resolution. Expanded membership levels will be offered. There will be multiple interest sections based on practice areas. Each section will, at a minimum, meet at the annual conference, have its own newsletter, have on-line discussions and compile special reports. The first annual conference will be held October 10-13, 2001 in Toronto, Ontario (see Conference Schedule on page 12). Some important benefits resulting from the merger include:
- Improved membership services - publications, a journal, sector-related newsletters, and an expanded website
- Enhanced marketing and public education
- Greater focus on public policy and legislation
- Stronger financial position
For general information on the new merged organization, please contact Heather Prichard, CREnet Executive Director (Director of Communications for the new organization) at 202-667-9700 ext. 217. For membership information, please contact Teresa Evans, SPIDR Membership Director (Director of Membership for the merged organization) at 202-667-9700 ext. 206. If interested in submitting a proposal for a presentation at the 2001 conference, you can get a Call for Proposals online at www.spidr.org.
This page last modified: July 23, 2002