MD Public-Private Business Operation Center Planning

CHHS Works with Maryland 
to Strengthen Public-Private Partnerships

In the fall of 2012, CHHS partnered with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to begin the process of developing a Business Operations Center (BOC) to bolster public-private partnerships and to enhance communication, information-sharing, and situational awareness. The purpose of the BOC is to enable both the public and private sectors to better collaborate and have their needs met in a disaster so that both sectors and the community can respond to and recover from disasters more efficiently.

Led by Senior Law & Policy Analysts Preeti Emrick and Elizabeth Webster, CHHS staff conducted private sector company outreach, developed the BOC Handbook, and encouraged relationship-building between the public and private sectors. CHHS reached out to 70 private sector businesses and trade associations by phone, email, and in-person meetings. The companies’ responses varied in terms of what type of specific relationship they wanted with the state, but most wanted to increase information sharing and communication with the state regarding disaster events, trainings, and exercises. Most were also interested in helping Maryland fill its resource gaps either through donations or through State contracts.

CHHS used the information from the outreach process to develop a BOC Handbook for MEMA and BOC members, which described
the structures and processes of the BOC and the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). CHHS staff conducted extensive research on nation-wide best practices and various structures of other states’ BOCs. The Handbook also discussed the areas of law that could have an impact on the BOC, such as donation laws, procurement laws, and liability issues.

CHHS’ BOC project efforts were
to culminate in a two-day workshop titled “Whole Community Workshop.” The first day of the workshop was scheduled to focus on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) “Whole Community” concept, 
 as well as the roles of federal and
state governments, and volunteer
and non-profit organizations. The workshop’s second day was to focus on the BOC concept, as well as the development and use of public-private partnerships to enhance disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts.

Less than 
one week before the workshop, however, Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast and caused widespread damage, requiring intensive response efforts from both MEMA and local emergency management agencies. Many of those called to respond were workshop attendees and panelists, and the workshop had to be cancelled. However, Sandy reinforced the need to develop public-private sector partnerships to aid in recovery efforts, and MEMA and the State of Maryland are committed to further developing the BOC for future operation.

This text was taken from the Spring & Summer 2013 Newsletter.


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