Revised Continuity of Operations Plan for the Department of Environmental Protection
By David Maxwell
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has begun a re-write of the Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). The COOP was originally developed in the late 1990s, after the ice storm of 1998 and in advance of Y2K and the technological concerns associated with the arrival of the year 2000. Since that time, world wide concerns such as terrorism and pandemic illnesses have added more reason for periodic review of the COOP.
A primary focus of the existing COOP is to identify those core services which must continue during or in the wake of an unusual event. For the DEP it has been determined that it is generally the emergency response functions (cleaning up spills of petroleum and hazardous materials) which must continue in as seamless a manner as possible. The emergency responders rely heavily on IT services for the purposes of communication and management of information. For this reason, IT is a necessary component of a proper DEP COOP. Michael Smith, a DEP-based OIT employee represents IT interests at the COOP revision table.
In the upcoming version of the DEP COOP, expected in early December, the Department will include COOP strategies for both short-term (two weeks or less) and long-term (greater than two weeks) events. Examples of short term events include an ice storm, a major power outage, a major fire, or an act of terrorism. Long-term events include prolonged short –term events or outbreaks of pandemic illness. Additionally, the content of the new COOP will be expanded to include facility and infrastructure disruptions which would affect internal and external communications and ongoing work responsibilities.
Questions regarding the DEP COOP can be directed to Ginger Jordan-Hillier (287-2651), a staff member in the Office of the Commissioner.