Continuity of the Federal Government in a Critical National Emergency, a Neglected Necessity

LCD-78-409: Published: Apr 27, 1978. Publicly Released: Apr 27, 1978.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The Federal Preparedness Agency (FPA) is responsible for setting policies for planning the continuity of government in a national emergency and for coordinating plans among 30 federal agencies.

FPA does not have the necessary resources or organizational structure to adequately fulfill its responsibilities. Efforts at coordination have been ineffective because groups established for this purpose have met infrequently. Planning assumptions and other guidance provided by FPA were outdated. Deficiencies in preparedness plans were not adequately identified in reports submitted by agencies or in FPA reviews. Participation in the National Defense Executive Reserve established to strengthen preparedness has declined. Because of FPA lack of enforcement capability, the agencies have developed different approaches in developing plans. Some agencies have not identified their essential emergency functions, and guidance in this area has not been adequate. Agencies are required to set up teams of key personnel to carry out essential functions at emergency facilities, but assignment of personnel to teams was incomplete, training was often inadequate, and arrangements for activation of teams was incomplete. Facilities for relocation of teams lack certain basic requirements, and agencies have not made detailed plans for problems that would be encountered in emergencies. FPA ability to assess damage could be limited because of problems in its resource data system.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FPA, should: (1) coordinate emergency planning more effectively by developing more indepth agency reviews, and by putting more emphasis on the National Defense Executive Reserve Program; (2) develop more specific criteria for agencies' use in determining which functions would be essential in an emergency; (3) direct agencies to develop specific plans to deal with the most severe problems in an emergency; (4) encourage and assist agencies in the use of the resource data system; and, (5) with other agency heads, develop guidance on training emergency team members, determine requirements and develop a system for reviewing the resource data system, and reevaluate the number of alternate headquarters facilities needed.

    Agency Affected:

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 21, 2016

Aug 3, 2016

Aug 1, 2016

Jul 14, 2016

Jul 5, 2016

Jun 30, 2016

Jun 28, 2016

Jun 23, 2016

Jun 22, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here