When the Panel believes that further bargaining may resolve a dispute, or at least serve to narrow the issues, it may send the parties back to the bargaining table on a specified, concentrated schedule, normally over a 15-, 30-, or 45-day period. In one variation of this procedure, during the resumed bargaining, the parties may secure assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) when they believe that it is necessary. The Panel will ask the parties to submit a status report at the conclusion of the concentrated effort. If they do not reach a complete settlement, the Panel may then direct another procedure, which often results in issuance of a binding decision. In another variation of the procedure, the Panel itself may arrange in advance a schedule of resumed negotiations with the FMCS mediator who was previously involved in the case.
Regardless of which variant is utilized, the Panel also sometimes informs the parties in the letter directing them back to the table that if a complete settlement does not occur during the specified period of negotiations, the Panel will be restricted to selecting from between the parties' final offers on either an issue-by-issue, article-by-article, or package basis. This usually occurs in only the most difficult impasses where the Panel believes that maximum pressure should be brought to bear on the parties to assist the mediator in his or her efforts at voluntary settlement.