Continuity Planning

 

 

 

The Office of Emergency Management is tasked with creating a culture of emergency preparedness and response across the University. The Office of Emergency Management is responsible for preparing for unexpected events and ensuring that the services carried out by departments across campus are addressed during and after an emergency. By actively participating in continuity planning, we can decrease the amount of disruption to the lives and schedules of students, faculty, and staff.

Contact the Office of Emergency Management to receive guidance for developing your continuity plan at emergencymanagement@utdallas.edu or 972.883.4111.

Continuity Planning is a key responsibility of each of us at UT Dallas. Continuity Planning ensures that the services we deliver are addressed during an emergency and that we have the least amount of disruption to the lives and schedules of students, faculty, and staff. It allows us to continue the core mission of our institution: teaching, research, and public service. By developing a continuity plan, departments on campus will be better prepared to provide expected services and carry out functions critical to the mission of the University in the event of an interruption to normal operations.

UT Dallas departments responsible for fulfilling functions critical to the University’s mission are strongly encouraged to create a continuity plan. Department Continuity Plans are developed through our online Continuity Planning Tool. Continuity Plans must be filed with the Office of Emergency Management and reviewed annually.

If you are interested in creating a Continuity Plan for your department or wish to learn more about Continuity Planning in general, please view the Intro to Continuity Planning Training (PDF [Portable Document Format File] ), or contact the Office of Emergency Management at emergencymanagement@utdallas.edu or 972.883.4111.

Continuity Planning and Recovery Guides and Checklists

The Continuity Planning and Recovery Guide for Laboratories and Research Facilities (PDF [Portable Document Format File] ) has been developed to help laboratory managers, principal investigators, and others, develop a continuity plan to help ensure that vital research operations can continue following a disaster or major disruption. All Continuity Plans must be filed with the Office of Emergency Management and reviewed annually.

A Continuity Planning and Recovery Checklist for Laboratories and Research Facilities (PDF [Portable Document Format File] ) has also been created to provide more condensed, step-by-step instructions to laboratories and research facilities interested in completing the Continuity Planning and Recovery Guide for Laboratories and Research Facilities. All Continuity Plans must be filed with the Office of Emergency Management and reviewed annually.

Contact the Office of Emergency Management at emergencymanagement@utdallas.edu to develop a continuity plan for your lab and/or research facility.

Emergency Response Checklist

To help mitigate the damage or recovery time after a disaster or disruptive event occurs, the Office of Emergency Management encourages laboratories and research facilities to create an emergency response plan. The Emergency Response Checklist for Laboratories and Research Facilities (PDF [Portable Document Format File] ) has been developed to help faculty, TAs [Teaching Assistants] , PIs [Principal Investigators] , and lab managers respond to a disaster or emergency that interrupts their normal operations. Emergency Plans must be filed with the Office of Emergency Management and reviewed annually.

For more information or assistance in developing your own Emergency Response Plan, please contact the Office of Emergency Management at emergencymanagement@utdallas.edu.

Annual Reviews

To remain compliant with the University and Department of Environmental Health & Safety standards, Continuity Plans must be reviewed annually with the Office of Emergency Management. Reviewing your plan annually ensures that information and procedures in your plan stay current and increase the likelihood that your department will be able to continue operations in the event of a disruptive event.

The Office of Emergency Management’s standard Annual Review procedures include:

  • Notifying your department, lab, or research facility of its upcoming review a month before your plan is actually due for review
  • Suggesting that reviews are attended by all members of your Continuity Planning team
  • Requiring your unit head to sign off on your Continuity Plan after the review has been conducted and any necessary changes have been made to your plan (completed through our Continuity Planning Tool)

Below are guides that will help you complete your Annual Review. Please contact the Office of Emergency Management if you have any questions.

Continuity Planning Tabletop Exercise

In addition to annual reviews, Continuity Plans must also be exercised annually to remain compliant with the University and Department of Environmental Health & Safety, Office of Emergency Management standards. A Continuity Planning Tabletop Exercise is used to clarify roles and responsibilities, test continuity plans and procedures, and identify additional business continuity needs that may arise after a disruptive event occurs on campus. To ensure that departments are prepared for such disruptive events, the Office of Emergency Management has developed an online Continuity Planning Tabletop Exercise using eLearning. This exercise poses scenarios to departments that test different sections of their developed continuity plans.

You will be granted access to the Continuity Planning Tabletop Exercise after your review has been conducted. Please contact the Emergency Management if you have any questions.

Other Exercising Options

The Office of Emergency Management strongly encourages departments, labs, and research facilities to test and exercise their Continuity Plans at least annually. Tests and exercises available to you include, but are not limited to:

  • Testing your emergency communication plan
  • Participating in a tabletop discussion with other departments on campus
  • Practicing emergency procedures to ensure the fulfillment of your critical functions during a disaster

If you are interested in discussing the different testing/exercise options available to you, please contact the Office of Emergency Management at emergencymanagement@utdallas.edu or 972.883.4111. All testing and exercises must be coordinated with the Office of Emergency Management.

Definitions

 

Business Impact Analysis (BIA [Business Impact Analysis] )

An exploratory component to reveal any vulnerability and a planning component to develop strategies for minimizing risk. The report describes the potential risks specific to UT Dallas. One of the basic assumptions behind our BIA [Business Impact Analysis] is that every component of the organization is reliant upon the continued functioning of every other component, but that some are more crucial than others are and require a greater allocation of funds or priority in service in the wake of a disaster.

Mutual Aid Agreements (MAA [Mutual Aid Agreements] )

Arrangements between governments or organizations, either public or private, for reciprocal aid and assistance during emergencies where the resources of a single jurisdiction or organization are insufficient or inappropriate for the tasks that must be performed to control the situation. These are commonly referred to as mutual aid agreements.

Stafford Act

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) authorizes federal agencies to undertake special measures to assist state efforts in rendering aid, assistance, emergency services, and reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas devastated by disaster.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

What is the purpose of having a Continuity Plan?

The purpose of having a continuity plan is to ensure:

  • Continuation of department/division.
  • Succession of key personnel.
  • Disruptions to operations are reduced.
  • Services are resumed, e.g.: teaching, research and public service.
  • A timely recovery is achieved.
  • Financial losses are minimized.

 

How long does it take to create a CP [Continuity Plan] ?

Think of this as roughly a four to six week project. Most of the development time will be time spent waiting for meetings to happen and for people to come to agreements on priorities and action items.

 

What’s in the plan?

  • Planning Assumptions
  • Critical Functions
  • Vital Records and Databases
  • Dependencies
  • Succession Planning
  • Communications
  • Attachments
    • Mutual Aid Agreements
    • Policies and Procedures
    • Phone Trees

 

What is Recovery Time Objective (RTO [Recovery Time Objective] )?

  • Used to prioritize critical functions.
  • Based on maximum allowable downtime.
  • Determine the RTO [Recovery Time Objective] for your critical function:
    • Consider
    • Peak times
    • Legal, financial, contractual, and regulatory factors.

 

Who should be in the planning group?

  • Upper and middle managers: assistant deans, assistant directors, your departmental HR [Human Resources] and IT [Information Technology] managers, building coordinators, etc… These employees have access to the dean or department head and understand how the organization operates. Keep the group size manageable.
  • Faculty input is essential. Try to enlist at least a couple of faculty members into your group.

 

What is the role of the planning group?

  • The group will typically meet and discuss, with little-or-no “homework”.
  • The coordinator will operate the UT Dallas Continuity Tool, often right at the meetings using a projector. The coordinator also can provide the group with the printed plan (which includes all entries-to-date) for discussion.

 

How many plans does my department/school need?

  • This is a crucial decision. For academic units, planning generally happens best at the level of the academic department. There are exceptions depending on the extent of integration and centralization of functions in the school.
  • For support units, the answer depends on the structure of the unit and the number of critical functions the unit performs.

 

What is the difference between processes and critical functions?

  • Processes are the steps needed to accomplish a function. For example, the function “provide meals for residents of University housing” is accomplished through the processes of “buying food, food storage, cooking, serving and cleanup”.
  • We focus on major functions because processes are too specific and detailed for our level of planning.

 

How do I know which functions are critical to my department or school?

  1. Identify all the normal functions your unit performs.
  2. Determine if any of the normal functions are critical.

    A normal function is “critical” if that function must be restarted during the first 30 days post-disaster to enable teaching or research to resume.

  3. Identify any extraordinary functions your unit performs.

    These are things we would not normally do, but which the crisis demands of us.

 

How I access the Continuity Planning Tool?

Contact EH&S [Environmental Health and Safety] Continuity Planning or your organization’s CP [Continuity Plan] coordinator to gain access to the UT Dallas Continuity Planning Tool.

 

Whom should I contact if I have any questions?

Contact EH&S [Environmental Health and Safety] Continuity Planning