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Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center (CPRC)

About the CPRC

On this page:

CPRC Mission Statement

Providing EPA with expert collaboration and conflict resolution services.

About the CPRC 

Bringing people together to address environmental challenges is central to how EPA does business. EPA has a long history of success in seeking input from the public, working with stakeholders to reach common ground, and providing mediators and facilitators to reach mutually acceptable agreements on contentious issues.

The Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center (CPRC) supports EPA’s regulatory, enforcement, and voluntary programs by providing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services to the entire agency. Expert CPRC staff, specialists in ADR in the EPA’s 10 regions, as well as professionals engaged through the CPRC’s Conflict Prevention and Resolution Services contract, help EPA and its stakeholders exchange ideas and information, identify areas of concern and common interest, develop recommendations, prevent and overcome disputes, and reach agreements. Every office at EPA has access to this contract to quickly hire professional neutral facilitators and mediators to assist with preventing and reducing conflict associated with their environmental projects. The CPRC supports ADR across the Agency, pursuant to EPA’s ADR Policy.

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CPRC History

EPA started to use ADR in the mid-1980s when the EPA’s enforcement program issued guidance on ADR use and with the establishment of the Regulatory Negotiation Project in 1986. The first contract to provide ADR services, and more broadly conflict prevention and resolution services, was awarded in 1988. The EPA created the Consensus and Dispute Resolution Program in about 1990, and after more than a decade of success and enhancements, established the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center in 1999.

Since its establishment, the CPRC has supported offices throughout EPA to tackle difficult environmental problems and work with the public to solve them. As articulated in the 1999 EPA Administrator’s memo establishing the CPRC, the center was established to “fulfill [EPA’s] obligations under the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act (ADRA) and other relevant laws and policy directives aimed at ensuring effective use of ADR in the federal government.” It was created to “build on existing ADR efforts at the EPA . . . to assist Agency offices in identifying appropriate non-adversarial and collaborative ways of preventing and resolving disputes and making neutral third parties more readily available for this purpose.” More information about the laws underlying the CPRC’s work can be found here.

Success Stories

Here are a few recent successes supported by the CPRC. Learn more by reading CPRC’s annual reports.

Helping States and Tribes Protect their Waters - The CPRC supported an initiative by EPA’s Office of Water (OW) to what waters a state or tribe may assume permitting responsibility for under an approved Clean Water Act (CWA) section 404 program. OW launched this initiative in response to concerns expressed by states and tribes that section 404 and its implementing regulations lacked sufficient clarity to enable them to estimate the extent of waters for which they would assume permitting responsibility and thus estimate the associated implementation costs. For this project, expert CPRC staff helped OW design a stakeholder assessment, establish a balanced federal advisory subcommittee, and engage a neutral facilitator to lead discussions among experts from states, tribes, academia, interest groups, the regulated public, and federal agencies. Through this process, the participants converged on an understanding of the issue, relationships between stakeholders improved, and a super-majority reached an agreement on recommendations to the EPA. These recommendations will make it easier for states and tribes to assume 404 permitting responsibility as Congress intended.

Listening to Communities at Superfund sites - EPA’s Superfund office worked with the CPRC to help residents in the USS Lead Superfund Site area in East Chicago, IN, to understand the cleanup effort and become more involved in activities at the site. The Superfund office worked with CPRC to hire a neutral facilitator through CPRC’s Conflict Prevention and Resolution Services contract, who conducted a situation assessment to understand the issues most important to the community and recommend steps to inform and engage the broad diversity of community members. One key recommendation was to conduct facilitated monthly meetings on topics of interest to the community, including upcoming cleanup activities. These meetings have helped strengthen the relationship between the site’s residents and the EPA cleanup team, and have also provided EPA with important information about residents’ specific concerns related to the cleanup. 

Recovering from Natural Disasters - At the request of EPA’s Region 2 Office in New York, the CPRC supported a series of workshops to help federal, state, county, and municipal governments organize their efforts to rebuild Suffolk and Nassau counties in Long Island, NY following Hurricane Sandy. The neutral facilitator engaged through CPRC’s Conflict Prevention and Resolution Services contract planned meetings, developed educational materials, facilitated roundtable discussions, and created reports to help the parties achieve their Smart Growth, environmental justice, resilience, and Transit Oriented Development goals on their path to recovery.

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Measuring the Impact of ADR 

EPA is committed to measuring the success of its ADR programs and is continually improving them to better meet the needs of EPA offices, Regions, and external stakeholders (e.g., state agencies, industry, environmental advocacy groups). A recent study by CPRC found that, when compared to litigation, ADR saves EPA time and money and increases staff capacity to execute the agency’s mission. Specifically, based on quantitative data collected on 185 individual ECCR cases before EPA’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, Environmental Appeals Board, and the Federal Courts:

  • Mediated cases were resolved in 1/3 less time in litigated cases.
  • Mediated cases required 30% fewer staff members to support than litigation.
  • Mediated cases required 79% fewer staff hours than litigation

In addition to these time and money savings, EPA recognizes that ADR produces many intangible benefits including improved relationships with stakeholders and broader stakeholder support for EPA programs. Evaluation, including through annual reporting, is an important way the CPRC identifies these savings and benefits and is key to systematic improvement of ADR programs.

You can read a new report released by the Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality titled “Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution (ECCR): Enhancing Agency Efficiency and Making Government Accountable to the People.” This report was based on more than a decade of experience and research and highlights successful EPA ECCR projects.

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Annual Reports

Each year, the CPRC submits a report on the EPA’s use of and key achievements in environmental collaboration and conflict resolution to the Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality. A few of CPRC’s most recent annual reports are listed below; they include detailed accounts of the work at EPA’s headquarters and in the regional offices to bring people together to solve complex environmental problems.  Please contact the CPRC for annual reports dating back to fiscal year 2006.

These annual reports were developed to fulfill the requirements of the Office of Management and Budget/President's Council on Environmental Quality Memorandum on Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution, September 7, 2012 (PDF)(9 pp, 4 MB, About PDF)

FY 2019 Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution (ECCR) Policy Report to OMB-CEQ (PDF)(58 pp, 2.4 MB, About PDF)

FY 2018 Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution (ECCR) Policy Report to OMB-CEQ (PDF)(63 pp, 3.4 MB, About PDF)

FY 2017 Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution (ECCR) Policy Report to OMB-CEQ (PDF)(53 pp, 414 K, About PDF)

FY 2016 Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution (ECCR) Policy Report to OMB-CEQ (PDF)(50 pp, 1 MB, About PDF)

FY 2015 Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution (ECCR) Policy Report to OMB-CEQ (PDF)(38 pp, 612 K, About PDF)

FY 2014 Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution (ECCR) Policy Report to OMB-CEQ (PDF)(40 pp, 189 K, About PDF)

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