JUDICIAL BRANCH COMPLETES CONTINUITY OF
OPERATIONS PLANNING PROCESS
With the successful conclusion of a tabletop exercise, the Judicial Branch recently completed its continuity of operations plan (COOP) project. According to Sandra Alexander, Disaster Recovery Coordinator, Department of Technology and Information (DTI), this makes the Judicial Branch one of three "tier one" state entities to have completed this process. (Tier one entities are those state entities, including the Judicial Branch, considered most important for returning to functionality after an emergency.)
Given the complexities involved, the planning process for the Judicial Branch has been a multi-year project. COOP planning consists of four phases, starting with a business impact analysis (BIA). To complete the BIA, subject matter experts in each court gathered information on their business functions and ranked them according to the State of Delaware's Critical Ranking Scale (to ensure that ranking is done consistently throughout the State). Phase two consisted of putting the data gathered during phase one into the Living Disaster Recovery Planning System that is used to build the statewide COOP. During phase three, the emergency notification system, called Notifind, was tested.
The final planning step was the recently completed COOP drill, which was a tabletop exercise led by staff from DTI and the Department of Emergency Management Assistance (DEMA). During the drill, a sample situation, which was the need to close the New Castle County Courthouse due to a sinkhole, was chosen as the subject of the test. Once the situation was described, all courts were required to indicate who they would contact, operations they would start first, and sites to which they would relocate. Having successfully completed the four planning stages, the Judicial Branch has now entered the final phase of the process, which is the maintenance stage. According to James Wright, COOP Coordinator for the Judicial Branch: "This stage is critical to the success with continuity of operations because keeping information current is necessary for an effective plan to manage an emergency event which may occur in the future."