The Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) has broad statutory authority to resolve negotiation impasses over conditions of employment in the Federal sector. Once it determines to assert jurisdiction in a dispute, the Panel may recommend or direct the use of procedures for resolving an impasse through any method it deems appropriate. If the procedure selected does not result in a settlement, the Panel may then take whatever final action is necessary to resolve the dispute, including the issuance of a Decision and Order. The Order is binding during the term of the parties' collective bargaining agreement unless the parties agree otherwise. Because the Panel believes that the voluntary resolution of impasses are superior to those imposed by a third party, after considering the parties' preferences, where circumstances warrant the Panel will select the procedure most likely to lead to a voluntary settlement. Consistent with this belief, the Panel encourages the parties to continue efforts to resolve the issues voluntarily at any stage of case processing.
The Guide is intended to describe those procedures most commonly used by the Panel, but does not include them all. Throughout its history, the Panel has been innovative in creating new procedures designed to meet the changing needs of Federal sector impasse resolution. In conjunction with any procedure, the Panel may, on occasion, introduce variations as well. After consulting with the parties, for example, the Panel may determine that time and efficiency require conducting the selected procedure by telephone conference. When presented with special circumstances or a novel issue, as a second step, the Panel may issue a Report and Recommendations for Settlement. This additional procedural step gives the parties an opportunity to consider and comment on a recommended settlement before a final decision is issued. In some cases, the Panel may use "final-offer selection," which limits the decision-maker to selecting between the parties' final offers on an issue-by-issue, article-by-article, or package basis, insofar as they otherwise appear to be legal. Final-offer selection is intended to provide the parties with an incentive for making their proposals as reasonable as possible. If it is used in connection with any procedure, the parties will always be notified in advance.