Sustaining Critical Services - Continuity of Operations - A Toolkit for Public Health

Continuity of Operations

Delegations of Authority


This tool provides resources to help your local health department (LHD) create signed delegations of authority to be activated concurrently with any lines of succession (LOS) during an emergency.

Delegations of authority are signed documents that create legal protection for emergency decisions and prevent bottlenecking or leadership vacuums that could interfere with your Continuity of Operations.

Tools and Samples

Aid the user in working through the toolkit we have broken out the following documents into two formats that we hope you will find helpful.

Tools: Documents that are ready to be used with little to no modification needed. They are designed to be off-the-shelf products that can be completed and used in your individual planning process.

Samples:  Documents that we have created in order to help guide you through completing the above referenced tools. They contain both real world and hypothetical scenarios that we have utilized to illustrate how the tool can look once it is completed.

Blank Delegation of Authority (Non-Medical)

Blank Delegation of Authority (Medical)

Sample Delegation of Authority

FEMA Continuity Evaluation Tool - Version 6, “Delegations of Authority,” pages 18-20

Legal Issues Surrounding Delegations of Authority

If done properly, completion of this tool should result in:

  • Finalized and signed delegations of authority for all necessary successors to mission critical positions.
  • Finalized delegation of authority template that can be used for the transfer of authority in an emergency event.
  • Documented procedures for activating and terminating delegations of authority.

What You Need Before Starting This Work:

  • You will need to make sure you understand any legal authorities that govern your leaders’ ability to make policy decisions, enforce regulations, etc. Understanding this will help you to transfer the right authorities in each delegation of authority.
  • You will need to understand the flow of decisions and actions, up or down the organizational chart, if a mission-critical role sits vacant. Think about how this may impact other’s ability to make necessary decisions, and how you can make provisions for that when drafting your delegations of authority.
  • Any relevant and active memorandum of understanding (MOU’s). For example, a written agreement for a neighboring jurisdiction’s health officer to serve as your county’s health officer in case of an emergency. Make sure you understand how these agreements impact your need for delegations of authority. In some instances these MOU’s may omit your need for a delegation of authority.

Steps to Completion:

  1. Decide which mission-critical roles should have a delegation of authority in place (not all roles will require one). It’s a good bet that any of your top executives and any positions named in local or state laws and regulations (such as TB control officer) will need one.
  2. For each position that requires a delegation of authority, outline the key duties and responsibilities that role requires. Use this information to draft your delegation document for that position. It’s important that you thoroughly understand the skills and legal authorities that each role requires so that you can give the appropriate amount of authority in each delegation. Sample delegations of authority for either medical or non-medical roles are included in this toolkit.
  3. Have the mission-critical staff member and their successor(s) – identified in your LOS – sign the delegation of authority. Keep legal copies on file in several, varying locations.
  4. Document in your continuity of operations plan the circumstances under which a delegation of authority will be activated or terminated.