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Hearing of the House Government Reform Committee on Federal Agencies Functionality in Wake of a Disaster

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Federal News Service April 22, 2004 Thursday

Copyright 2004 The Federal News Service, Inc.
Federal News Service

April 22, 2004 Thursday

HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE HOUSE GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE SUBJECT: CAN FEDERAL AGENCIES FUNCTION IN THE WAKE OF A DISASTER? A STATUS REPORT ON FEDERAL AGENCIES' CONTINUITY OF OPERATIONS PLANS

CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE TOM DAVIS (R-VA)

WITNESSES PANEL I:

LINDA D. KOONTZ, DIRECTOR, INFORMATION MANAGEMENT ISSUES, UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE;

PANEL II: MICHAEL BROWN, UNDER SECRETARY FOR EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE DIRECTORATE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY;

PANEL III:

JOHN KERN, DIRECTOR, NETWORK CONTINUITY, AT&T CORPORATION

LOCATION: 2154 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.

BODY:

REP. TOM DAVIS (R-VA): A quorum being present, the Committee on Government Reform will come to order. I'd like to welcome everyone to today's hearing on the status of the federal government's continuity of operations plans. Today on the House floor we're considering legislation laying out the framework of how Congress would continue operating in the event of a catastrophe. That's important but let's be honest: the real, tangible day-to-day work of the federal government doesn't happen here. It happens in agencies spread across the nation, and ensuring their continued operation in the wake of a devastating tragedy should be considered every bit as important.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I thank you for taking the time to be here and visit with us today. You mentioned in your report the Y2K efforts, and my assumption-which I would like to know is it correct or not-is that that is where you have drawn your baseline? As working from the efforts that were made there in preparation for Y2K, does that help with your baseline?

MS. KOONTZ: What we drew from the Y2K effort was the previously identified list of 38 essential functions that were identified specifically for that purpose, and we used this as an example against which to evaluate plans to see if these essential functions were present or not. We don't mean to imply that this is the definitive list of essential functions, but we felt it was one strong example of where the government has already identified programs that had a high impact on the public.

REP. BLACKBURN: Okay. Now, have you required the different agencies and departments to-going into those and looking at that Y2K planning and to those agencies and programs, have you required them to go on and give you the coordination with state and local agencies for implementation of continuing of services, as it affects those departments?

MS. KOONTZ: We haven't yet looked at the issue of coordination between the federal and state and local governments.

REP. BLACKBURN: Okay. What is the status of the agencies' information technology that is needed to oversee these essential functions?

MS. KOONTZ: Well, one of the aspects of any kind of continuity planning would be to ensure that your critical infrastructure and your system would be available in an emergency. And this would also extend to what we call vital records as well. In order to operate in an emergency situation, one has to have access to the information that is needed for this decision making. So these are all aspects of continuity of operations planning. What we found among the agencies: that it was, frankly, mixed preparedness in all these areas.

REP. BLACKBURN: Thank you.

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