Year 2000 Computing Challenge:

Federal Business Continuity and Contingency Plans and Day One Strategies

T-AIMD-00-40: Published: Oct 29, 1999. Publicly Released: Oct 29, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the status of agencies' business continuity and contingency plans and Day One strategies, focusing on the: (1) state of the government's business continuity and contingency planning; and (2) status of Day One strategies.

GAO noted that: (1) although more work remains, agency business continuity and contingency planning has evolved and improved since 1998; (2) in March 1998, GAO testified that several agencies reported that they planned to develop contingency plans only if they fell behind schedule in completing their year 2000 fixes; (3) in June 1998, GAO testified that only four agencies had reported that they had drafted contingency plans for their core business functions; (4) by contrast, in January 1999, GAO testified that many agencies had reported that they had completed or were drafting business continuity and contingency plans while others were in the early stages of such planning; (5) finally, as GAO testified in August, according to an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official, all of the major departments and agencies had submitted high-level business continuity and contingency plans in response to OMB's May 13,1999, memorandum; (6) with respect to OMB's latest request for high-level plans, the 24 major departments and agencies and the U.S. Postal Service have submitted updated business continuity and contingency plans; (7) while OMB's May 1999 memorandum directed agencies to describe their overall strategies and processes for ensuring the readiness of key programs and functions across the agency, it did not detail the format or reporting elements that the agencies were to follow; (8) accordingly, the plans vary considerably in terms of format and level of detail; (9) Day One strategies are necessary to reduce the risk to facilities, systems, programs, and services during the weekend of the critical rollover period; (10) in its September 1999 quarterly report, OMB required agencies to submit Day One strategies by October 15; (11) GAO's review of the agency strategies found that about 40 percent (9 of 23) addressed the seven elements required by OMB; (12) with respect to specific elements, GAO was able to identify 15 agencies that included a schedule of activities and 17 that addressed staffing issues; (13) an important part of Day One planning is ensuring that the Day One strategy is executable; and (14) GAO's Day One strategy review found that 19 agencies discussed rehearsing their strategies, although some did not provide specific dates of planned or completed rehearsals.

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