The Importance of Operational Continuity for State-Level Organizations

Under new federal guidelines, all non-federal public and private entities that operate or own infrastructure critical to the welfare of the U.S. must develop both a Continuity of Operations and a Continuity of Government Plan, according to transweb.sjsu.edu/project/2976.html.

MTI, in partnership with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), has been evaluating the Caltrans existing COOP/COG plan. Their goal is to find any gaps in how Caltrans responds to emergency situations and develop approaches that complement all the different emergency management plans utilized by Caltrans. They are also looking at the adequacy of the training received by Caltrans employees in implementing the COOP/COG plans.

Emergency Operation Center (EOC) employees were evaluated first. Visiting 11 Caltrans Districts, the study showed a gap in properly training for the utilization of FEMA’s Incident Command System/National Incident Management System (ICS/NIMS). It was revealed that neither FEMA nor the Department of Homeland Security had developed courses to train state-level transportation agency staff in the implementation of essential functions, something required by COOP/COG.

The conclusion was that the most effective framework for a successful COOP/COG plan was to make the COOP/COG team a part of the EOC Management Section, thus making communication between the EOC and the COOP/COG team more effective in completing essential functions in conjunction with critical tasks by the EOC.

The result of the research was the issuing of a two-part document dealing with the development of the State DOT’s COOP/COG plan. The first part of the document describes the research itself with an included proposal for utilizing an Integrated Command System (ICS) in the EOC, as is suggested in FEMA’s IS 775. The second section provides training materials for the use of the ICS in the EOC, including a complete set of EOC annexes for each ICS section — Management, Operations, Planning, Logistics and Finance.

The last part of the document includes training materials for COOP/COG functions, including an overview of COOP/COG and position descriptions for the State DOT’s Essential Functions Unit.

For more information about these new federal business continuity requirements, visit: http://transweb.sjsu.edu/project/2976.html