Section III - Dispute Resolution

Implementation of government-to-government principles should increase our ability to resolve disputes. However, it is unlikely that all issues can be resolved though consultation alone. Reasonable, accessible dispute resolution procedures are critical to successful, robust government-to-government relationships. A dispute resolution process may be useful to resolve technical issues, policy choices, or to insure that a government's values or mission have been given fair hearing and due consideration. Centennial Accord Plans should identify how disputes may be elevated within tribal and state governments if agreement is not reached at a staff level.

Each state/tribal government, department or agency should establish processes where disputes can be identified and an approach to resolve the dispute can be selected. The specific dispute resolution mechanisms or protocols that are appropriate will depend on the particular agency or issues involved. A process should be designed that allows participants to tailor dispute resolution mechanisms to specific issues, consistent with their respective legal authorities. Dispute resolution mechanisms could include mediation, agreed fact-finding mechanisms, or litigation within agreed parameters.

Each state/tribal government, department or agency should also publish contact information that identifies staff who can assist other government parties in understanding and utilizing the organization's dispute resolution processes.

In cases where agreement cannot be reached, it is recognized that each party is free to pursue its interests through means it deems appropriate, including litigation. In the event of litigation, agreements to meet and confer before litigation is filed may help to ensure each party understands the positions and interests of the other parties, and may provide opportunities to discuss how to reduce the time and cost of litigation for all concerned.