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

Continuity of Operations


After-Action Report:
A facilitated process used by a team to capture and document the lessons learned (successes and failures) from a recently concluded emergency response or exercise, with the goal of improving future performance.
Business Continuity:
Sometimes abbreviated as BC. Also called continuity of operations or COOP. BC is the capability to sustain business functions in the event of a disaster or emergency, and to minimize emergency or disaster impact on business operations.
Business Resilience:
The ability of an organization’s business operations to rapidly adapt and respond to internal or external dynamic changes – opportunities, demands, disruptions or threats – and continue operations with limited impact to the business.
Contingency Plans:
Spell out the detailed who, where, when, and how of sustaining a service. Contingency plans are procedural annexes to an agency’s continuity of operations plan. They contain more detail and are narrowly focused on a single service in comparison to an agency COOP plan.
Continuity of Operations:
Sometimes abbreviated as COOP. Also called business continuity or BC. COOP is the capability to flexibly implement a variety of strategies to minimize the impact of an emergency or disaster on business operations, depending on the needs of the response. Strategies may include sustaining critical functions during a disaster, reorganizing service delivery models to meet the emergent needs of the community, and reconstituting operations quickly following a disaster.
Continuity of Operations Plan:
Pre-determined set of instructions or procedures that describe how an organization’s essential functions will be sustained for up to 30 days as a result of a disaster and transition back to normal operations.
An abbreviation for Continuity of Operations.
Critical Services:
Services that can experience down time spanning from 0 hours to 24 hours before triggering major consequences. Priority 1 and Priority 2 services.
Critical Staff:
Positions without whom the agency could not deliver critical services.
Critical Systems:
Information systems, applications, databases without which the agency could not deliver critical services.
Critical Vendors:
Vendors without whose goods or services the agency could not deliver critical services.
A structured and facilitated form of group processing used soon after an emergency response to assess the adequacy of actions taken during the emergency response and recommendations to prevent recurrence or improve future responses.
Delegation of Authority:
A legal instrument used to devolve authority from the responsible party to an individual acting on their behalf. This signed document gives the named delegate the same powers and accountability as the responsible party.
Disaster Recovery:
The capability to retrieve lost data and restore access to critical systems following a catastrophic disaster.
Government Emergency Telecommunications (GETS):
Emergency phone service provided by the Department of Homeland Security which allows government personnel performing national security and emergency preparedness missions to receive priority processing for local and long distance calls, when lines are congested and the probability of completing a call is small (i.e. during an emergency).
Improvement Plan:
A plan created by management to implement corrective actions to lead to improved performance.
Line of Succession (LOS):
The individuals designated to act in place of a critical role, in order to preserve continuity of operations or continuity of government. Staff identified in a line of succession should be notified and trained to assume their alternate role, should the need arise.
Lower Priority Services:
Services that can experience down time of over 24 hours before triggering major consequences. Priority Three and Priority Four services.
Medical Reserve Corps (MRC):
U.S. network of community-based units initiated and established by local organizations to meet the public health needs of their communities. sponsored by the Office of the Surgeon General of the United States. The MRC consists of medical and non-medical volunteers who contribute to local health initiatives in time of emergency.
Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs):
Agreements between individual parties, a collection of parties, or statewide and include public, private sector and non-profit agencies, initiated to augment specific local public health capabilities and responsibilities that are most likely to be overwhelmed during a large-scale public health response.
National Incident Management System (NIMS):
System used in the United States to coordinate emergency preparedness and incident management among various federal, state, and local agencies.
National Continuity Policy Implementation Plan. The National Continuity Policy is articulated in National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD)-51/Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-20. Issued by the President in May 2007, the National Continuity Policy and the National Continuity Policy Implementation Plan (NCPIP) implemented a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program to ensure the preservation of Government and the continuation of essential functions, and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency.
Plan, Do, Check, Act:
Iterative four-step problem-solving process typically used in business process improvement, sometimes abbreviated as PDCA cycle. Also known as the Deming cycle, for the successful results garnered by William Edwards Deming in applying the quality improvement process to Japanese manufacturing.
Priority Level:
One of four tiers of agency services signifying: the degree to which a service directly impacts the life, safety, or health of a community; the time a service can be delayed before these impacts are experienced; the willingness of an organization to invest resources in sustaining the service during emergencies; or the order in which services will be restored following an emergency.
Priority 1 Services:
24/7 immediate services that must be maintained under all circumstances to protect the public from immediate life-safety threats, maintain Constitutionally-required functions, and maintain the Department’s decision-making capability. Generally, an outage of less than eight hours for a Priority 1 service will trigger serious long-term consequences.
Priority 2 Services:
Short-term services that may be inoperable up to 24 hours or can be delayed up to 24 hours.
Priority 3 Services:
Medium-term services that may be inoperable up to 72 hours. Services that could be delayed for up to three days without jeopardizing public safety or higher priority functions.
Priority 4 Services:
Long-term services that may be inoperable more than 72 hours. Services that could be delayed or temporarily suspended for more than three days without jeopardizing public safety or higher priority functions.
Public Health Surge:
Capability to augment the capacity of the public health system to meet a surge in demand, as during emergencies.
RACI model:
A method of describing the participation of various roles in completing tasks or deliverables for a project or business process. RACI is an acronym derived from the four key roles typically described in the process: Responsible; Approver; Consulted; Informed.
Redundant Communication Systems:
Systems used to backup primary communication methods if the primary systems fail. Redundant communication systems are sometimes less efficient or have more limited capability than primary systems (e.g. ham radio vs. email).
See business resilience.
Rural Health Department:
A health department serving counties which are completely rural or have less than 2,500 urban population, adjacent or non-adjacent to a metro area. Refer to the USDA’s Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for more information.
Tabletop Exercise:
A guided group discussion based around a simulated disaster. Emphasis is placed on a low stress, yet thorough, group problem solving process.
Telework / Telecommuting:
The ability of staff to access the office network and applications from an alternate location (e.g. home) in order to accomplish work tasks. Telework can be facilitated by such tools as groupware, virtual private networks (VPN), conference calling, videoconferencing, and Voice over IP (VOIP), which all rely on use of a broadband internet connection. Cloud computing technology and Wi-Fi availability further enable telecommuters to access remote servers.