After Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. government placed greater attention on homeland security and continuity planning.
President George W. Bush issued numerous homeland security directives. Several of these evolved into Federal Continuity Directives 1 and 2 (FCD 1 and FCD 2), which today define how the executive branch of government addresses continuity of operations (COOP) and continuity of government (COG).
In this article, we’ll briefly examine FCD 1, how it works and how it may benefit your efforts at developing business continuity plans of your own.
FCD 1 establishes a standardized continuity program management cycle and framework across all federal government continuity programs. It establishes performance metrics, defines implementation plans, establishes best practices and enables cross-agency continuity evaluations. The FCD 1 framework includes program elements, plans and procedures that support program implementation. As with other BC frameworks, the overall cycle encourages objective evaluations and feedback from exercises, procedure development and training.
Components of a continuity capability
The following paragraphs describe each element in the FCD 1 framework and how they can assist in the development of enterprise business continuity plans.
Defining essential functions
Identification and prioritization of essential functions help define the planning parameters for an agency’s continuity efforts. To ensure that an agency can still function, it must identify a subset of “normal” activities that are then designated essential functions. These must be included in the agency’s continuity planning process.
Three categories of essential functions have been defined:
National Essential Functions (NEFs) represent the most important responsibilities of the federal government to lead and sustain the nation.
Mission Essential Functions (MEFs) are agency functions, such as providing vital services and maintaining public safety, that must be continued during and after a disruption of normal activities.
Primary Mission Essential Functions (PMEFs) are critical MEFs that must either be continuously performed during an event or resumed within 12 hours of an event and then maintained for up to 30 days thereafter or until normal operations can be resumed.
Value to enterprise BC planning – A business impact analysis (BIA) provides valuable information for BC planning. Review FCD 1 to obtain additional insights on business functions and other BIA-type activities so that your BIA will be as thorough as possible.
Orders of succession
Orders of succession must be defined by all agencies to ensure that agency personnel know who assumes agency leadership if the principal agency leaders are incapacitated or unavailable in a disaster.
Value to enterprise BC planning – Succession planning is often overlooked in enterprise BC plans. Review FCD 1 to obtain additional insights on succession planning.
Delegations of authority
Delegations of authority deal with policy issues to ensure that all agency personnel know who has the right to make key decisions during a disaster.
Value to enterprise BC planning – Delegation of authority is often overlooked in enterprise BC plans. Review FCD 1 to obtain additional insights on this important activity.
Agencies must identify alternate locations to operate in an emergency. Included in this strategy is the option to telecommute, also known as teleworking.
Value to enterprise BC planning – Alternate facilities and work areas are important BC strategies. Review FCD 1 to obtain additional insights on issues to address when developing your alternate facility/work area plans.
During and after a disaster situation, agencies must be able to securely communicate (e.g., voice/data and Internet) the same as they would in normal business operations, usually within 12 hours after an event.
Value to enterprise BC planning – Recovery and restoration of IT and communications technologies is typically addressed by technology DR plans. Additional planning items for this critical area can be found by reviewing FCD 1.
Vital records management
Continuity plans and programs must identify, protect and ensure the availability of all kinds of records (e.g., electronic and hard copy) that are needed following a disaster.
Value to enterprise BC planning – Protection and recovery of vital records are critical BC strategies. Additional guidance on data protection can be found in FCD 1.
Among the issues addressed here are leadership in a crisis, emergency teams, relocating staff to alternate sites, and returning to normal (known as reconstitution).
Value to enterprise BC planning – Sometimes, human issues, such as payroll, leaves of absence and benefits can be overlooked during plan development. Review FCD 1 to obtain insights on a broad range of human resources issues.
Test, training and exercise (TT&E)
An effective TT&E program ensures that agencies and their employees can perform MEFs and PMEFs during any emergency.
Value to enterprise BC planning – Most BC/DR plans include training and awareness of staff and exercising of plans. Additional guidance for ensuring that all the issues have been addressed in these important areas can be found in FCD 1.
Devolution of control and direction
Devolution transfers operational responsibilities for essential functions from an agency’s primary staff and facilities to other agency employees and facilities. It sustains operations for extended time frames and can be initiated when a primary location is unavailable.
Value to enterprise BC planning – The message of devolution is clear: if the business can no longer operate in its primary site, it must have a way to re-establish operational control at an alternate site. Review FCD 1 for valuable guidance on devolution.
Reconstitution occurs following a disaster, when agencies begin their return to business as usual as functioning entities of the federal government.
Value to enterprise BC planning – Within the private sector, the term “restoration” is analogous to reconstitution. Some very useful points for reconstitution planning can be found in FCD 1.
As you can see, the elements of continuity planning in the federal government are very similar to those in the private sector. Use FCD 1 to help ensure that you cover all the bases when building your plans.