DHS/FEMA COOP Training Conclusion

Longest Running CHHS Federally Funded Project Comes to an End

For the past six years, CHHS has been the go-to training source when state, local, tribal, and territorial governments in the U.S. want to know how to implement Continuity of Operations (COOP) planning. More than 100 jurisdictions from Maryland to Alaska to Guam have not only learned the importance of developing plans to maintain essential functions and services following a wide range of potential disasters, but are equipped with the skills to create and implement their own comprehensive COOP plans.

While business continuity planning has been around for decades, CHHS was one of the first consulting groups to take federal guidance regarding continuity planning and adapt it for state and local government use. In 2005, following a large undertaking with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to help all cabinet level agencies develop, implement, and test COOP plans, CHHS applied for and was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Training and Exercise Division to develop and offer the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-certified course Preparing the States: Implementing Continuity of Operations Planning. After four pilot courses, we delivered our first official training in Portland, Oregon in May of 2007.

COOP is an operational level plan designed to help agencies resume essential functions within 12 hours of an emergency, and sustain functions for up to 30 days. The two-day course (MGT 331) is offered to management officials and emergency planners who are either responsible for developing COOP plans within their respective agencies, or training others in COOP development. Course goals are derived from the Nationwide Plan Review, the National Preparedness Goal, and the Target Capabilities List. Effective COOP plans ensure essential government functions, programs, services, systems, and personnel continue to operate during and after a disabling natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Trainers, including CHHS Associate Directors Alexandra Podolny and Megan Timmins, Senior Law and Policy Analyst Michael Vesely, and Senior Policy Analysts Eric Oddo and Vernon Herron, have visited major cities and small towns alike. Over the life of the DHS grant to offer Preparing the States free of charge to agencies across the U.S., CHHS received an additional $1.5 million in continuation funding, completed two re-writes of the materials and tailored our delivery for thousands of individual participants. One of the major hurdles early in the course’s development was how to present contentious topics such as relinquishing control over an agency’s resources during an emergency and learning to work collaboratively with partner organizations.

More and more agencies have seen the need for comprehensive preparedness planning, but continued training to keep up with best practices is essential and there are more entities to be trained. While the FEMA-certified course will no longer be federally funded as of the end of December 2013, CHHS will continue to deliver to interested clients for a low cost. Participants will also still receive certificates of completion for FEMA course MGT 331. CHHS is proud to be a pioneer in COOP training for state and local government agencies, and looks forward to future partnerships with DHS and FEMA.

This text is taken from the CHHS Fall 2013 Newsletter.

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