Not Made for TV: The Critical Behind-the-Scenes Continuity Mission

Not Made for TV: The Critical Behind-the-Scenes Continuity Mission

Not Made for TV: The Critical Behind-the-Scenes Continuity Mission

Back in the public spotlight for the first time since the Cold War thanks to the new ABC drama Designated Survivor, Continuity of Government (COG) is a lesser-known mission in the portfolio of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Federal Emergency Management Agency. As a concept, its origins lie in the dawn of the atomic era, when the new possibility of simultaneous nationwide devastation created the need for contingency plans for the worst cases imaginable.

While the nuclear threat remains, in recent years the focus of COG has expanded to include scenarios that are less extreme but still capable of disrupting the essential workings of Government in one or more parts of the country. Such risks include cyberattacks, damage to critical infrastructure, and – yes – terrorist attacks like the decapitation strike on the State of the Union Address portrayed on Designated Survivor.

To adequately prepare for this broader range of threats, and to meet public expectations of Government stability during a catastrophe, DHS must embed the ‘whole community’ concept into the COG mission space. The idea of whole community, tested in conventional emergency management settings, recognizes the roles and responsibilities of the different levels of Government, institutional actors, and private actors – and the importance of their working together before, during, and after a crisis.

Just as regular emergency management requires collaboration from many diverse stakeholders, effective Continuity of Government depends on many different actors. If a city or county government fails, or if businesses or residents don’t know how to access critical government services due to an incident, then COG efforts are inadequate.

Avoiding such a fate requires the Government to educate and continuously involve Other Federal Agencies (both inside and outside the National Capital Region); state, local, tribal, and territorial governments; the private sector; and even individual citizens. Only by working collectively and collaboratively at all levels can governments, and the institutions and individuals on whom they rely, develop a continuity capability that can maintain essential functions operational during catastrophes.

“Continuity of Community” offers the best hope for all survivors – Designated and otherwise.

About Arc Aspicio

Arc Aspicio is a management, strategy, and technology consulting firm that takes a mission-oriented approach to complex client challenges. As a rapidly growing company, Arc Aspicio has a bold strategy for 2016-2018 that drives growth through new capabilities in strategy, design, human capital, data analytics, information sharing, cybersecurity, and strategic communications. The company is known for a strong, collaborative culture that values gratitude – for its clients and its great team. And, #welovedogs! Follow us on Twitter @arcaspicio or learn more at www.arcaspicio.com.

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Contributors

Dmitriy Zakharov |

Dmitriy is a Consulting Manager presently supporting a data management and governance project. He holds a BSFS in International Politics and an MA in Security Studies, both with a concentration in International Security. Dmitriy has extensive experience conducting outreach with a wide range of audiences and stakeholders, from senior government leaders to the general public. He has also worked in strategic foresight and planning, organizational analysis and design, enterprise data analytics, change management, and leadership transition support. In addition to client delivery, Dmitriy helps lead Arc Aspicio’s new business efforts in the emergency management mission space. He has managed numerous community service and social events for the company and has been recognized for his mentorship of junior colleagues.

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