Winston Churchill once said, when speaking of England’s American cousins, that they were “one people separated by a common language.” It seems that those words were never more true when continuity professionals from the private sector interact with their federal, state, or local government counterparts. They are two groups with the same ultimate goal of recovering from disruptions yet often miles apart when discussing the very real issues of continuity, incident management, and resilience. Private sector practitioners are concerned with an ever-demanding customer base, while the public sector professionals have concerns surrounding the operation of government entities. The private sector is concerned with return on investment and the bottom line. The public sector is concerned with being part of responsive government and budgetary constraints.
Yet issues of continuity of operations and business resiliency have significant commonality. Regulatory requirements make it necessary to document and put in place procedures that are consistent and repeatable. RTO, for example, is a common requirement for both private and public sector professionals. Whether it’s the chairman of the board of directors who wants to know when he will have his supply chain process reestablished or a city manager who wants to know when the roads through downtown will be open to traffic again, the function of the resiliency professional is pretty much the same. This is only one small example with huge impact that both private and public sector resiliency experts have to plan for and execute.
All resiliency professionals endure endless discussions in company boardrooms and government conference rooms over who owns what process and whose function is really critical and whose isn’t. Is there any difference between a senior VP who has decided that he wants access to his building in an emergency and a special assistant to the governor who decides the same thing? Both situations have a political component, and both have a proper response in the continuity continuum.
In the period since the World Trade Center attacks, both the public and private sectors in the United States and throughout the globe have seen an explosion of regulation and proposed regulatory changes for the recovery environment. All of these regulations have the same lofty goal in mind: to make the country its businesses and citizens more prepared. The reality is that it’s harder than ever for the government and business continuity professionals to stay on top of the issue and ahead of the next wave of legislation. This is another area of common concern for the two groups. The implementation of TITLE IX of the Private Sector Preparedness Act (PL 110-53) may be the arena that helps to join the best of government practices with those of the private sector.
DRI International has been involved from the beginning with professionals in both segments. Many of our certified business continuity professionals are at the center of preparedness for government agencies or public sector entities. They recognize the similarities of process is the same even if some of the terminology changes. Our public sector colleagues have learned to strip away the business nomenclature from good solid professional practice and replace it with their own agency or municipality terminology. Our industry professionals worked tirelessly with their local county or city or state officials to make sure that the local community has the benefit of their subject matter expertise in preparedness. At every level of business continuity, both public and private, it is the expertise of DRI international certified professionals that bridge the gap between the sectors.
Later this year, DRI International will be rolling out a new certification and training that is specifically targeted for the public sector resiliency professional. As with other recent offerings, this is being developed in conjunction with subject matter experts at every level of government and subject matter experts in all aspects of continuity. Through this effort, it is hoped that in the near future the two sectors will not be quite so far divided by that common language.
Alan Berman, CBCP, is a member of the ASIS BS25999 technical committee, a member of the Committee of Experts for ANSI-ANAB, a former member of the NY City Partnership for Security and Risk Management, executive director for Disaster Recovery Institute and the co-chair for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation committee to create the new standard for the US Private Sector Preparedness Act (PL 110-53).