Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP)

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,, 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:

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.

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Chris Bennett

Thanks for sharing, Elina. Every company should at least start small by having a list of every employee’s name, address, mobile #, emergency contact # and email, where they would evacuate to if a local disaster and where they would evacuate to if a regional disaster. This makes it a lot easier to track people down after a serious event. Family/personal planning happens first so people can at least make it back to work, then the more involved continuity plans start kicking in.

Allen Sheaprd


Great post – COOP not just a good idea – its the law (as per National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) -51/Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) -20 created the National Continuity Policy, and the subsequent National Continuity Policy Implementation Plan (NCPIP), )

Please revisit your version. Why? So many lay offs and re-oranizations the current version may be way out of date. I do not like doing a COOP plan they are useful.

Allen Sheaprd


Good point and absolutely right. When work closes, we still need to be safe – even (dare I say) comfortable! [ Not a joke and available in your area]

Personal planning is needed, how ever it takes less than a disaster to crush a business. One cable cut of the internet connection can be disastrous. AC unit failure during the summer. Bad food poisoning at a super bowl party takes out the delivery department. Remember California brown outs? Places shutting down for a day. Napa Valley fires taking out power so Mondavi winery lost tourist business.

You may ask “who will go to work during a riot or heat wave?” Well – us. Local government. People will say FEMA. Well FEMA helps *manage*. There kinda has to be a local in the office to manage. Later when help arrives – who do they report to?

Lastly – sending in the calvary. There has been a few cases where calling in the reserves called in too many critical people gutting an office of its work flow management. True story from the 1992 Gulf war.

Chris has the right idea. Really. If you can take care of yourself you can be an aide to others instead of a recipient.

The same goes for business. Can the business take care of itself?

There is one more disaster not covered. Lack of demand. What if those you server can not contact you or reach you? How will the department continue to serve them and do its job?

Solutions available upon request (well from many sources, its putting them into practice that is hard).