State of Vermont
Agency of Administration
Department of Buildings & General Services
Title: Continuity of Government
Date of Issue: May 01, 2018
Supersedes: September 13, 2002
The objective of this Policy is to define a process to prepare for the continuity of state government and continuity of services in the event of an emergency. This policy provides direction and establishes notification processes in the event an emergency occurs and a continuity plan must be activated.Title 29 V.S.A. section 171 (e) states:
(e) The commissioner of buildings and general services is responsible for the protection of state facilities, the lands upon which the facilities are situated, and the occupants of those facilities, which is vital to sustaining the essential services of government in an emergency. The commissioner shall develop plans for continuity of government and continuity of operations as an addendum to the state emergency operations plan maintained by the department of public safety, division of emergency management and referenced in 20 V.S.A. section 8(b)(2).
Alternate Facility is where organizations can continue or resume essential functions that are not the Primary Facility and where organizational command and control of essential functions occurs during a continuity event.
Continuity Assessment Tool (CAT) is a resource for organizations to assess their continuity plan and program against the requirements for a viable continuity program and plan as outlined in this policy. The CAT uses a 10 point scoring system. This progressive scoring system is an integral part of the evaluation and allows an organization to demonstrate progress from one assessment to the next. Organizations should use this Tool on a regular basis as a method for determining whether gaps exists and overall progress.
Continuity of Government (COG) is the coordinated effort within each of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches to ensure that essential functions continue to be performed before, during, and after an emergency or threat. COG is an outcome of a viable continuity capability, not a program and is intended to preserve the statutory and constitutional authority of elected officials at all levels of state government.
Continuity of Operations is an effort within individual organizations to ensure essential functions can continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies, including natural, technological, and human-caused hazards. Continuity of operations should be a part of every agency’s fundamental mission.
Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) is a detailed emergency plan, beginning at the lowest business unit and rolling up to the highest organizational level that outlines the specific steps necessary to carry out the organization's plan for maintaining services in the event of an emergency. It is designed to deal with any event, whether anticipated or unanticipated (i.e. blackout, flood) which disrupts the normal course of business operations at any location.
Continuity Planner is responsible for developing and maintaining an organization or subcomponent continuity plan and integrating and coordinating the continuity plan with broader organizational or governmental guidance, requirements, and initiatives.
Continuity Resource Group (CRG) will meet periodically to review each COOP to evaluate the strategic prioritization and allocation of continuity resources and facilities. This committee may be activated by the BGS Commissioner during a continuity event to facilitate and prioritize alternate facility relocations and resources.
Mission Essential Functions are activities and tasks that cannot be deferred during an emergency; these activities must be performed continuously or resumed quickly following a disruption. A distinction should be made between essential and important functions. There are many important functions that can be deferred until after a crisis.
Legally mandated functions are essential as are functions that are critical to supporting another organization’s essential functions.
Primary Facility is where a function and/or a service is normally delivered.
Planning across the full range of continuity operations is an inherent responsibility of every level of state government. When an organization is faced with a continuity event, the COOP provides for continuation of essential functions and enables a rapid response to any emergency situation.
The COOP documents:
- What will occur in a continuity situation
- How and how quickly continuity actions must occur
- Who will participate in continuity operations
The COOP identifies mission essential functions, staff contact lists, communication procedures, equipment necessary to operate, off-site locations, and any other information determined necessary by the Commissioner of Buildings & General Services (BGS). By defining resources, actions, tasks and data required to manage a COOP, each organization will be able to ensure that their organization is prepared to respond to an interruption in services.
Each organization shall notify the BGS Office of Security of their organization’s appointed COOP Planner who will develop a detailed COOP for their organization and facilities. The COOP is created and maintained by the organization’s COOP Planner at www.vermontcoop.com. Copies of these plans shall be maintained at the primary facility and the department's central administrative office. A copy shall also be filed with the BGS Office of Security annually on May 1st.
The following elements must be included in the COOP:
- Mission Essential Functions
- Orders of Succession
- Delegations of Authority
- Continuity Facilities
- Continuity Communications
- Vital Records Management
- Human Resources
- Test, Training, and Exercises
A. PHASES OF CONTINUITY PLANNING
Phase I: Continuity Planning Project Inception
- Senior Leader Sponsorship of Continuity Planning Project
- Identify Organization Continuity Planner
- Identify Continuity Planning Team
- Organization senior leadership
- Subject Matter Experts
- Continuity Planner
- Identify Mission Essential Functions
Phase II: Continuity Analysis
- Continuity Planning Team continues to identify continuity elements for each Mission Essential Function.
- Identify COOP Teams
- Compile data, draft Organization’s Continuity of Operations Plan.
Phase III: Continuity Training and Exercise
- All organizational staff receive Continuity Awareness training.
- Senior leadership and COOP Teams trained on roles and responsibilities.
- Organization participates in Table Top Exercise and completed After-Action Review.
- Improvement Plan drives revisions to the COOP.
- Testing, training, and exercise completion is to be reported to the BGS Office of Security.
B. PHASES OF CONTINUITY OPERATIONS
Phase I: Readiness and Preparedness
The readiness and preparedness phase is an opportunity for the continuity planning team to:
- Identify all organizational essential functions
- Develop the organization’s COOP
- Identify all resources needed for continuity operations
- Conduct tests, training, and exercises to verify that all resources are identified and operational, and all personnel are trained for a continuity event.
Phase II: Activation and Relocation
The activation of the COOP, and the deployment of the Relocation Team to the continuity facility, needs to occur within 12 hours of activation, with minimal disruption to operations.
Alert, notification, and relocation activities are procedures that need to be documented in this phase. Devolution should also be addressed in case:
- The primary and continuity facilities are in accessible.
- Key personnel are incapacitated or otherwise unable to perform their continuity functions
The Organization Head will coordinate with the Secretary of Administration and the BGS Commissioner to determine if the COOP will be activated. If the COOP is activated, the Organization Head will notify its COOP Relocation Team Chief and begin the alert notification procedures. The BGS Commissioner will activate the CRG to assist in the prioritization and direction of continuity resources to ensure a smooth transition to an Alternate Facility.
Phase III: Continuity Operations
The continuity operations phase details the activities at the continuity facility. Procedures include:
- Reception, in-processing, and accounting for personnel
- Transition of responsibilities to the Relocation Team
- Guidance for non-deployed personnel
- Identification of replacement personnel
- Execution of essential functions at the continuity facility
- Activation of processes to acquire the resources needed to continue essential functions and sustain operations
- Notification to customers and stakeholders of continuity activation and status
- Redeployment plans for return to the Primary Facility
The Organization Head will update the BGS Commissioner, the Director of the Office of Security, and DHR Labor Relations on status of operations daily.
Phase IV: Reconstitution
Reconstitution describes how an organization attempts to restore operations to its Primary Facility. The BGS Commissioner is responsible for officially declaring a COOP is no longer needed. If the Primary Facility cannot be used, the BGS Commissioner will identify another location for restoration of normal operations. After a space is identified, the Organization Head will notify leaders and staff through the alert notification procedures.
C. PLAN MANAGEMENT
Organizations will review and revise their continuity strategy, plan, and supporting documentation and agreements and submitted a finalized plans to BGS Office of Security by May 1st annually. The organization’s Continuity Planner must submit verification of training and exercising to the BGS Office of Security by December 31st annually.
Developing continuity metrics and then evaluating and assessing continuity plans and programs against these metrics is an important step for planners and managers. The Continuity Assessment Tool (CAT) provides a tool to assess the continuity plan and program against the requirements for a viable continuity plan and program. The CAT helps identify areas of strength, areas for improvement, best practices, and lessons learned.
Organizations should develop a continuity multi-year strategic plan that provides for the development, maintenance, and review of continuity plans to ensure the program remains viable and successful.
Department Approval: Christopher Cole, Commissioner, Department of Buildings and General Services
Agency Approval Required: Susanne Young, Secretary, Agency of Administration