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Continuity of Operations Plan

Summary

The College of William and Mary has always been prepared, to the greatest extent possible, to respond to hazardous events.  That being said, the College has grown increasingly aware of the increased number and kind of potential emergencies and their ability to disrupt operations and jeopardize the safety of faculty, staff, and students.  Consequently, there is a need to build the capacity to respond to events of greater depth and breadth in their ability to disrupt or even dismantle the College's capability to perform essential functions.  The College is determined to continue to develop and maintain a program that preserves, maintains, and reconstitutes its ability to function in an emergency condition.

Emergency planning, including continuity of operations planning, is a critical function for the College.  In addition, it is good business practice.  The College must have the capability to continue to conduct certain operations during an emergency and to resume others rapidly and efficiently once the immediate crisis has passed.  While the impact of an emergency cannot be predicted, planning for operating under such conditions can mitigate that impact on our people, our facilities, and our mission.

The purpose of the Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) is to mitigate the effects of a man-made, technological, or natural disaster.  The COOP covers all College operations, schools, departments, and service areas, including contracted operations.  Using an all-hazards approach, the plan ensures that regardless of the event, essential functions will continue to operate and services will continue to be provided to the extent possible to faculty, staff, and students.  This approach anticipates the full range of potential emergencies, from those that cause the temporary interruption of a single function to the shutdown of the entire campus or region requiring the suspension of all non-essential functions and the relocation of essential functions to an alternative site for an extended period of time.

The mission of the College is teaching, research, and public service.  The COOP is based on the principle that during an emergency the mission of the College must solely be the preservation of health and life safety, the protection of property, the protection of research, and the return to normal or near normal operations as quickly as is feasible.  The goal of protecting research is to ensure to the greatest extent possible that nothing is lost while the activities associated with that research are suspended.  The COOP establishes policy guidance and procedures to ensure the continued operation of functions deemed to be part of the fundamental mission in the event of an incident that threatens or incapacitates people and operations.

It is the College's intention to ensure the continued performance of minimum essential functions on campus during a wide range of potential emergencies and to make provision for alternative facilities if needed.  Ultimately, the ability to respond to and recover from emergencies affecting the College of William and Mary's operations depends on the training, proficiency, and health of its employees, available resources, and clarity of leadership.  This COOP supports employees and contractors, system users, emergency responders, local and regional emergency management agencies, and the general public during emergencies.  The plan:

  • ensures the capability to implement the COOP both with and without warning;
  • includes regularly schedule testing, training, and exercising of agency personnel, equipment, systems, processes, and procedures used to support the agency during a COOP event;
  • provides for a regular risk analysis of current alternate operating facilities;
  • identifies and documents temporary operating procedures which enable the performance of essential functions;
  • identifies alternate facilities for the operation of essential functions that maximize our ability to initiate, maintain, and terminate operations as needed; and
  • promotes the development, maintenance, and annual review of agency COOP capabilities.

The COOP contains administrative and academic department annexes that allow them, and their respective sub-departments, to define critical assets and functions.  The purpose is to assist departments in formulating how they would continue to perform critical functions and preserve critical assets during an emergency as well as to increase the level of departmental involvement in the formulation of the plan.  Each department is asked to provide the following information:

  • General responsibilities and functions
  • Essential functions that are critical to the maintenance of the mission when the mission is altered during an emergency
  • Emergency contact information
  • An emergency communication plan
  • Critical information assets (both electronic and hard copy), including the purpose of the asset and the person within the department responsible for maintaining the asset.  The impact of the loss of the asset on the department's ability to continue operations during an emergency was considered in determining its criticality.
  • A plan for accessing these assets during an emergency, which includes off-site storage and access from an alternative site
  • A list of essential functions that must be maintained for an extended time period.  This list describes the function and the primary, alternate, and second alternate person responsible for the function.
  • Description of how these functions are protected and interim solutions should this function be lost for an extended period of time
  • Departmental leadership succession
  • A list of other departments within the College upon which the department relies during normal operations and in an emergency.  This list describes the dependency and the department responsible for providing the service.
  • A list of external providers upon which the department relies during normal operations and during an emergency.  This list includes the product or service, the primary and secondary provider of the product or service, the providers' contact information, and the name or names of the staff within the department that is responsible for communicating with the vendor.
  • The impact upon the College if the goods or services are unavailable for an extended period of time
  • Mitigation strategies the department will employ to lessen the impact of the emergency
  • Recovery steps the department will take to return to normal operations
  • A description of the method used to account for staff near the site of the incident and at the alternative site, if utilized
  • A list of special considerations the department may face in an emergency

Information gathered from the departmental annexes is used in the formulation of the College's comprehensive COOP.  The comprehensive COOP also provides policy and guidance to ensure the ability to restore essential functions within the recovery times established by the institution.

Continuity of operations plans are, by their nature, living documents that are continually updated and enhanced.  The 2007 plan developed the basic procedures for protecting life and health safety, maintaining external and internal communications, and protecting property for events that may last from 12 hours to 14 days.  It focused on those systems that facilitate critical administrative functions during an emergency and the preparation required for the eventual return to normal operations, including the ability to maintain and access crucial records and functions.  The plan was intended to ensure consistency across the College as well as compatibility with external agencies' procedures that are necessary to meet the challenges of incidents and disasters.  It incorporated terminology, command structures, and communications systems that are compatible with national standards and allow for common understanding among agencies.  Building on that plan, the 2008 plan considered events that may last up to 30 days, adds a plan for contagious threats (pandemics), and incorporates the scenarios directed by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

The College's COOP is a companion to and consistent with the College's Emergency Response Plan, which delineates the policies and procedures related to the management of an emergency.  The College complies with all National Incident Management and Incident Command Systems requirements.