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Continuity Planning

Planning for Tomorrow, Today. 

The government can’t stop working just because of an emergency. This means that federal agencies need to be prepared, with plans that account for every situation, to ensure our jobs always get done. This is called comprehensive continuity planning.

OR&R’s Disaster Preparedness Program (DPP) plays a vital role in NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS) preparedness and Continuity of Operations (COOP) planning. Serving as the NOS Continuity Coordinator, the DPP is responsible for the management and maintenance of the NOS COOP Plan. 

Three people standing near a whiteboard talking.
Image credit: NOAA.
What is a Continuity of Operations Plan?

A Continuity of Operations Plan covers everything from natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes to fires and terrorist attacks. A COOP plan addresses emergencies from an all-hazards approach that provides a road map for individual departments to perform essential functions for up to 30 days, or until things return to normal. Continuity of Operations plans are living documents that are adaptable and flexible.  

The DPP works in coordination with NOAA’s Homeland Security Program Office (HSPO) to ensure NOS is ready for any scenario. The DPP supports NOS in ensuring that their COOP plans include procedures that identify and maintain the following information:

  • Essential Functions. What does this department need to do?
  • Orders of Succession. Who is going to do it? 
  • Delegations of Authority. Who has the authority to make decisions? What kinds of decisions can they make? 
  • Continuity Facilities. If facilities are damaged or inaccessible, where else can personnel go to perform their duties? Are there suitable backup locations?
  • Continuity Communications. When electricity or phone lines are down, what backup communication methods are available?
  • Essential Records Management. What technologies store critical files and information? If computer systems are inoperable, do the right people have access to paper copies? What are other backup options?
  • Human Capital. Who is on call for emergencies? What are their roles and responsibilities?
  • Tests, Training, and Exercises: Are essential functions stressed and/or tested to identify preparedness gaps? Is there a routine exercise plan in place to test processes and prepare staff for real disasters? 
  • Devolution of Control and Direction. If an organization’s leadership is impacted and/or unavailable to support,  who will ensure the continued performance of Essential Functions? Is there a process in place to transfer statutory authority and responsibility for essential functions from an agency’s primary operating staff and facilities to other employees and facilities? 
  • Reconstitution. When and how do things go back to normal?

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Last updated Sunday, January 10, 2021 5:49pm PST