Have you thought about how your company will function in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster? In a post-9/11 and Hurricane Katrina world, this is a must. FEMA recommends that every business have an Emergency Plan as well as a Continuity of Operations plan (COOP) in order to maintain essential business functions. FEMA’s readiness website, ready.gov, focuses on creating such plans for personal and business purposes.
Continuity of Operations plans center on identifying essential functions of your business and operations that are critical to business survival. Such functions include emergency payroll, access to accounting systems, and identification of suppliers and other business contacts with whom you must interact on a daily basis. FEMA also recommends identifying a secondary location from which you can run your business and planning for management succession. It is also recommended that you review and update the COOP plan annually.
As you can imagine, Continuity of Operations Plans are also vitally important for Government agencies themselves. In early 2010, Washington, DC was hit with a massive snowstorm and Government agencies were virtually shutdown for a week. Many employees were able to work remotely from their homes, so the Government still functioned, albeit at a slower pace. Things could have been far worse.
In 2007, President Bush announced National Security Presidential Directive 51 which created a National Continuity Policy for the Federal Government. This directive required Government agencies to develop Continuity of Operations plans and appoint a senior official accountable for these plans at each agency. Federal Government Continuity Plans are similar to those for businesses, and the essential elements are detailed here (link: http://www.fema.gov/about/org/ncp/coop/index.shtm#4).
As with any new Government rule or directive, there’s also a corresponding potential market for contractors. GSA’s Schedule 84 focuses on Total Solutions for Law Enforcement, Security, Facilities Management, Fire, Rescue, Clothing, Marine Craft and Emergency/Disaster Response. Within Schedule 84, Special Item Number (SIN) 426-4F is for Emergency Preparedness and First Responder Equipment, Training and Services, which includes Continuity of Operations Planning services. Additionally, through Schedule 84’s cooperative purchasing program, contractors can sell to state and local governments off their GSA schedule. Given the importance of such planning in this day and age, this is an important area of focus as well as a huge potential market for contractors.