Key Definitions

  • Delegation of Authority: Certain tasks that are assigned in anticipation of a COOP event from one employee to another.
  • Devolution: The process of continuing essential functions only (worst-case scenario planning).
  • Key Personnel: Personnel that perform essential functions and/or critical processes.
  • Orders of Succession: Planning to fill a vacant position with an employee who can perform the psotion's tasks.
  • Reconstitution: Returning to normal operations.
  • Recovery Time: How soon functions, equipment, personnel, etc. can be up and running.
  • Vital Records: Records essential to the protection of the legal and financial rights of an agency and of individuals directly affected by the agency's activities.


Continuity of Operations & Continuity of Government

During a disaster or unplanned event (power outage, water pipe break) a business/organization's ability to keep performing their essential functions may be significantly impacted.

  • Buildings or equipment may be broken or destroyed.
  • Basic utilities (water, power, air handling) may not work.
  • Staff may be unable to get to work or may be responding to the disaster itself.

Business closures can result in financial losses and delay of work. Government departments and agencies are no exception. They have a responsibility to operate in a prudent and efficient manner while also assuring the safety of each employee. Governmental entities need to maintain operations during a forecasted threat and reopen following a disaster, as soon as it is safe to do so.

Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) enables an organization to scale down to just the essential functions necessary to keep it running during and after an emergency or disaster. All COOP plans should outline general guidance for altered operational procedures, personnel policies, and sustainment of up to five essential functions.

Elements of a COOP Plan

There are at least 8 elements that a proper COOP Plan should identify:

  1. Essential Functions
  2. Human Capital/Key Personnel
  3. Delegations of Authority and Orders of Succession
  4. Communications
  5. Vital Records, Databases, Systems, and Equipment
  6. Alternate Facilities
  7. Reconstitution and Devolution
  8. Training, Exercise, and Evaluation Program of COOP Plan

A business or agency must be able to activate its COOP plan within 12 hours and should be able to use it for up to 30 days. For government agencies, if the disruption is expected to last more than 30 days, a Continuity of Government (COG) plan should be used. A COG plan outlines operational procedures and a definition of core functions.

The impact of an individual emergency cannot be predicted; however, planning for basic and essential needs ahead of time can lessen or eliminate any interruption in services.

For additional tips on writing a COOP Plan, click here.