In the uncertain fiscal environment, it is more important than ever for municipal, state and federal government agencies to prepare for situations that may inhibit their ability to continue providing the public with vital services. These situations that may interrupt these abilities range from natural disasters to transit strikes to shootings. To counter these threats, agencies need to establish procedures to safeguard employees and constituents. This includes being able to maintain communications during an emergency, to continue providing vital services and, in severe situations, to designate alternate officials for the continuance of governmental authority through succession planning and formal delegation of authority.
The federal government has recognized this issue and has provided grants to state and municipal governments to help fund the planning and supplementary equipment purchases in support of these efforts. The funding supports continuity of operations planning (COOP) and maintaining the integrity of governmental command and control through continuity of government (COG). It is the responsibility of local governments to implement these two initiatives. Key guidance derives from numerous sources, including the National Security Presidential Directive – 51 (NSPD 51) and Homeland Security Presidential Directive – 20 (HSPD 20), issued in 2007.
There are three well established standards for continuity of operations planning in the public sector:
ASIS International SPC.1-2009 Organizational Resilience: Security Preparedness, and Continuity Management System – Requirements with Guidance for use (2009 Edition).
British Standards Institution (BSI) 25999 (2007 Edition) - Business Continuity Management. (BS 25999:2006-1 Code of practice for business continuity management and BS 25999: 2007-2 Specification for business continuity management).
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1600-Standard on Disaster / Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs, 2007 and 2010 editions.
State governments are increasingly asserting themselves by establishing and monitoring statewide COOP program requirements that include automated continuity planning tools developed to state standards.
Risk Solutions International program manages several statewide continuity of operations programs, managing the data collection process, plan development sessions and assessing progress among hundreds of state agencies and departments. We integrate several web-hosted tools that manage the process consistently across these functional organizations, automate the document repository process, and create intuitive, easy to use plans that “roll up” at a statewide level. We also develop emergency management plan websites that serve as the state standard platforms for all agencies, departments, and school districts.