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

Continuity of Operations

Prioritizing Critical Services


This tool is set up to help your local health department (LHD) prioritize its services and identify those that must be sustained during an emergency to avoid serious consequences to life, health and continuity of government.

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.

Service Prioritization Framework – sample

Service Prioritization Form

Critical Services Form

FEMA Continuity Evaluation Tool - Version 6, “Essential Functions,” pages 12-14

Service Prioritization Framework - Small Department

Prioritized List of Services - Small Dept

HIVA Methodology

HIVA - Large Department

HIVA Small Department

What You Need Before Starting This Work

Nothing at all! This tool will form the basis for the rest of your Continuity of Operations planning.

Steps to Completion

  1. Start by analyzing the hazards your community faces, so you know what types of situations to prepare for.
  2. Use the RACI model to indentify the fundamental roles in this process - Responsible, Approvers, Contributors, and Informed.
  3. Create a list of services your agency provides.
  4. Figure out how you would like to use the final prioritized list of services to support your continuity of your operations. You may want to order your list according to the order in which services are restored after an emergency.
  5. Create criteria to help guide your agency in categorizing its services as Priority 1 through Priority 4. Use the PHSKC service prioritization framework as an example of what this looks like for a major metropolitan health department.
  6. Get executive approval of the criteria that you are using to prioritize your services.
  7. Have each organizational unit in your agency document their services on the blank Service Prioritization Form (A sample completed version is available here.) Recommend a priority level for each service based on the criteria you already established above.
  8. Combine all the Critical Service Forms to ensure services are prioritized consistently across the organization. Not everything can or should be a Priority 1 service.
  9. Finalize the Priority Levels for all of your agency’s services and distribute final prioritized list across your organization. Make sure to provide an explanation of how that list will be used.