Director, Continuity of Operations Division
National Continuity Programs, Federal Emergency Management Agency
In a post 9/11 world, Federal; State; territorial; tribal; and local government jurisdictions and private sector organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the potential effects of both human caused and natural disaster events on humans, critical infrastructure, and key resources (CI/KR). The National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD)-51/Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-20, National Continuity Policy requires all local, state, tribal and territorial government agencies, and private sector owners of CI/KR to create a Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government Plan (COOP/COG). Critical and mission essential functions (MEFs) are defined as those required activities to provide vital services, maintain the safety and wellbeing of stakeholders, and sustain the economic base during a disruption or an emergency.
Agencies should develop continuity of operations plans to ensure MEFs during emergency and disaster events. A viable continuity of operations plan consists of document plans, procedures and support that provide for continued performance of MEFs under all circumstances (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1999). According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a viable continuity of operations capability means that an agency maintains a high level of readiness that can be implemented with or without warning such that an agencies MEFs can be operational within 12 hours of activation and sustainable for up to 30 days (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1999). Components of continuity of operations plans include identification of essential functions, establishment of plans and procedures, access to information systems and essential records, provisions for delegation of authority and orders of succession, dispersal of operations across geographical locations with alternate sites, multiple critical personnel to conduct essential functions and redundancy of communications (e.g., Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1999; General Services Administration, 2000; McCloskey, 2002).
- Provide a comprehensive overview of Continuity of Operations, and the planning requirements to implement, test, train, and exercise.
- Increase awareness about U.S. policy and guidance to maintain a comprehensive and effective continuity capability, integrated across Federal, State, territorial, tribal, and local governments and the private sector to ensure the preservation of our form of government under the Constitution and continuing the National Essential Functions under all conditions.
- Educate Federal, State, territorial, tribal, and local government jurisdictions and private sector organizations about the importance of continuity of operations and having a COOP plan.