Legislator on disasters: Continuity plan for gov’t agencies

San Nicolas


A policy framework and an operational continuity plan—these are the two fundamental factors contained in a legislative measure that would ensure the health and safety of the community during disasters as well as the continuity of operations in government.

Sen. Michael San Nicolas, D-Dededo, has authored a bill (Senate Bill 172-33) called ‘Responsible Operational Continuity Plans Act,” requiring government agencies to establish and maintain an up-to-date operational continuity plan, which would come handy during events which would disrupt the ability of the agency to operate, including emergencies resulting from a natural or other disasters.

“Operational continuity is a basic function of any agency of the government,” San Nicolas wrote. “Disasters occur, whether there are operational continuity in place or not. When a disaster occurs, a government which plans in advance is in a better position to respond than a government which is not guided by an established plan.”

Though the Office of Civil Defense is tasked to respond to emergencies, San Nicolas noted, some circumstances may adversely impact operational continuity for agencies which do not arise from emergency conditions, such as loss of personnel by attrition, breakdown of equipment or the loss of records due a systems failure.

The Legislature cited two events—the systems failure in October 2013 at the Department of Public Health and Social Services’ Office of Vital Statistics, which resulted in the loss of thousands of vital records. The other, the fire that broke out in the Cabras 3 and 4 power stations on Aug. 31, 2015, which posed significant challenges to Guam Power Authority.

While workers from the Authority and the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, the bill said, have done a commendable job in responding to the loss of Cabras 3 and 4, the establishment of operational continuity plans for the loss of generating capacity should ultimately translate to better preparation of personnel and capital equipment in such events.

Each such plan would be reviewed annually by the governing board on or before October 1 and provided to the Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense./The Junction News Team