(a) Nothing in
these rules shall be construed so as to prevent any agency from establishing
informal procedures for resolving a contested case or from establishing
procedures which are intended to occur prior to an agency's referral for or the
initiation of a contested case.
Parties to a contested case are encouraged to resolve the contested case
through settlement, informal conference, mediation, arbitration, or other means
throughout the duration of a contested case. If the parties choose to engage in
mediation, they shall request mediation at least 30 days prior to
(c) With the consent of
all parties, the hearing officer may assign a contested case to another hearing
officer on limited assignment for the purpose of nonbinding alternative dispute
resolution methods, including settlement conference and mediation. Such
settlement conference or mediation shall be conducted in accordance with the
procedures prescribed by the hearing officer conducting the settlement
conference or mediation.