Online Extra: Va. uses software template to standardize its agencies' COOPs

Federal agencies may be struggling with preparations to remain in operation through a disaster, but Virginia government officials said they have found a way to make sure state agencies develop consistent plans.

The Virginia Information Technologies Agency is providing state and local government agencies with training and a template for establishing standard continuity of operations plans.

Paul Lubic, VITA's associate director for policy, practice and architecture, said his agency recently bought software from COOP Consulting LLC of McLean, Va., to promote the adoption of best practices.

'We see a value in using the template so the continuity of operations plans will be in a standard format, which will enhance the management of those plans at the governor's office level,' Lubic said. 'Having them all look the same will let us quickly navigate to get the information we need in case of an emergency.'

Lubic said VITA decided the state needed the software after COOP Consulting reviewed the existing plans for the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness and found they were done in an ad hoc way.

State agencies pay a nominal fee to VITA for the software to help defray the cost of the licenses, Lubic said.

The software includes an online template that lets agencies create their plans and store them in a central repository.

"To answer the questions, the agencies must have an understanding of their business and the processes that are critical to their mission,' Lubic said.

The system also can notify government workers in the event of a disaster via wireless e-mail devices.

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