A survey of Bureau of Land Management employees on collaboration and alternative dispute resolution

Product Type: 

Open-file Report




Ruell, E.W., N. Burkardt, and R.M. Donovan

Suggested Citation: 

Ruell, E.W., N. Burkardt, and R.M. Donovan. 2015. A survey of Bureau of Land Management employees on collaboration and alternative dispute resolution. Open-File Report 2015–1015. Reston, VA: U.S. Geological Survey. 146 p.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been actively expanding its capacity to work cooperatively with other agencies, Tribes, the public, and other stakeholders using collaborative and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) approaches. In 1997, the BLM created the BLM’s Collaboration and Alternative Dispute Resolution Program (Collaboration/ADR Program) to centralize, strengthen, and coordinate these efforts. Specifically, the Collaboration/ADR Program is charged with developing ADR policies; ensuring that statutory and regulatory requirements are met; and providing training, resources, and direct support for collaboration and ADR in the BLM. At the request of the Collaboration/ADR Program, the Social and Economic Analysis Branch of the U.S. Geological Survey, located in the Fort Collins Science Center, conducted an online survey of BLM employees in early 2013 to address four overarching questions:

  1. What information sources and assistance resources are BLM employees currently accessing to fill their conflict/dispute resolution and collaboration needs?
  2. What are the perceived information and resource needs of BLM employees associated with conflict/dispute resolution and collaboration? What information and resources can the BLM Collaboration/ADR Program provide to fill BLM employee needs?
  3. What is the BLM employee level of knowledge associated with conflict/dispute resolution and collaboration?
  4. What are the attitudes and perceptions of BLM employees toward conflict/dispute resolution and collaboration?

This report describes the findings of this online survey and will assist the BLM’s Collaboration and ADR Oversight Committee in developing the Strategic Plan for the Collaboration/ADR Program. The purpose of the Strategic Plan is to advance collaboration in the BLM and to increase the capacity of the Collaboration/ADR Program to support collaborative efforts on the ground.

In March 2013, a user-specific link to the online survey was sent via email to all current BLM employees (n = 6,734) that could potentially have had experience in collaboration and conflict resolution based on their job series. The links took the respondents to a webpage where the survey was administered. Email reminders were sent at weekly intervals thereafter. When the survey closed in May 2013, the response rate was 45 percent (3,161 employees). Of these, only 14 percent (427 respondents) indicated that they did not have direct experience with collaboration or ADR, and were unlikely to gain experience in the future. Because these respondents were not the target population of this survey, they were branched to the demographic questions at the end of the survey and were not included in any further analyses. The remaining 86 percent (2,734 respondents) indicated that either they did have direct experience with collaboration and (or) ADR, or that they might gain experience with one or both in the future. Below we highlight some of the key findings from their survey responses (refer to the Results section for a comprehensive report of the survey findings).


Nina Burkardt
Nina BurkardtEmily RuellRyan Donovan