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Document Type

Article

Abstract

Mediators employed by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service ("FMCS") utilize a powerful set of technology tools that helps groups more effectively solve problems, make decisions and implement those decisions more successfully. FMCS mediators use these tools to help customers conduct collective bargaining negotiations, strategic planning sessions, grievance meetings, internal elections, large conferences, as well as remote meetings and online surveys via the Internet. Known as the FMCS TAGS System, this network of Internet servers, mobile computers, electronic conferencing facilities, customized software and external partners has demonstrated significant achievements during its first two years of operation. FMCS customers report that TAGS helps them better prepare for meetings and negotiations, retain better records, communicate better with constituents, minimize the impact of geographic separation and save time, travel and money. FMCS mediators integrate TAGS technology tools with their traditional skill set to help participants engage more openly and honestly, share knowledge and opinions more constructively, generate better ideas and build a stronger commitment to joint action. As a result, TAGS technology tools help FMCS customers conduct shorter, more productive, problem-focused meetings and help minimize transaction costs associated with group decision-making. This article describes the reasons that FMCS invests in technology tools, identifies the hardware and software solutions adopted by FMCS, postulates why those solutions have been successfully applied by FMCS mediators and explores several factors that any group should consider before using such leading edge tools.