REDSTONE ARESENAL, Ala.-In the event Army Contracting Command and Expeditionary Contracting Command Soldiers and employees are directed to stay away from their Redstone Arsenal campus, a plan is in place to help the command continue operations.

"For ACC and ECC, a major emergency situation or event that damages our buildings, power source, or information technology support has the potential of putting us out of business. So we have a Continuity of Operations Program in place," said Daniel E. Morgan, chief, Protection Division, ACC Operations Group. "A COOP event could affect ACC's and ECC's ability to perform the tasks or functions we were organized to perform."

According to Morgan, the reason for a COOP plan is to ensure that ACC's and ECC's mission-essential functions can continue without or with only a limited interruption.

"Think of COOP as an insurance policy for an organization," he said. "Simply put, ACC and ECC provide a unique capability to our supported activities and the United States Army. If we are faced with a major emergency event, such as a terrorist attack like 9/11 or a major natural disaster (like the tornado outbreak here in April 2011) we must be ready to continue to perform our mission-essential functions."

The need for an organization to continue operation in an emergency is practiced throughout the Department of Defense, state and local governments, as well as hospitals, schools, banks and many businesses. Morgan said the Federal Emergency Management Agency even provides free online training and planning guidelines.

"When done well it will ensure that an organization can continue to perform its mission-essential functions regardless of the emergency situation it is faced with," said Morgan. "ACC and ECC have organized COOP teams. These individuals are required to be prepared to operate from an emergency relocation facility, somewhere other than their normal place of work, for a period of a minimum of 30 days. These essential employees are issued identification badges and other equipment to enable them to perform from alternate work areas."

Morgan said employees with COOP responsibilities work with their supervisors to ensure their position descriptions are updated and reflect their COOP responsibilities. In addition, all employees need to have a situational telework agreement signed by their supervisor and on file. Telework agreements enable employees to work from home if needed during a COOP event.

In the event that a COOP event occurs or is predicted to occur, the ACC Operations Group will notify and assemble the ACC/ECC crisis management team and make a decision on how to respond.

"The CMT is composed of the commanders, deputies to the commanding general, the chiefs of staff and all senior directors of both ACC and ECC," he said. "If the decision is made to execute or activate our COOP plan, then the plan becomes an order, and the work force will be informed of the decision using our emergency notification system and or our telephonic recall rosters."

ACC and ECC employees can help by ensuring they are prepared for an emergency.

"Destructive tornados are a fact of life here and preparedness is the key," Morgan stressed. "All ACC and ECC employees should develop a disaster supply checklist for their home and family.
We live in the Tennessee Valley, an area where tornados can and have occurred in every month of the year."

Morgan said the best way to be ready for an emergency before it happens is to anticipate one will happen sooner or later.

"Preparation is the key. Being ready to respond and ensuring that your family is prepared to deal with the aftermath of that emergency, perhaps without you, are important," he said. "If an employee is a member of one of our COOP teams, they should understand that they may be asked to perform their COOP duties during some very trying times."

In order for the plan to work, ACC and ECC employees must do their part.

"We need to make sure that all employees with COOP responsibilities are ready to perform their functions," he said. "We worked as a combined ACC/ECC staff to determine what our mission-essential functions are, but without the necessary people to perform these essential functions we will face a significant challenge."

Morgan said the command conducted a COOP exercise in May where all teams were exercised and a local emergency relocation facility was used. The command will do a similar exercise this year. He added that his office is working with other ACC elements away from Redstone Arsenal to ensure they have a COOP plan and program at their levels.

The bottom line for Morgan is to have employees ready to continue to operate and function away from their normal places of duty.

"Success is having the necessary people to continue the execution of our mission essential functions, from an alternate location, for as long as necessary until we can return to our normal operations," he said.