While the IC’s research organization looks into adding security to cloud environments, in the here and now, intelligence agencies are sharing more data.
Simulated exercises are a great way to assess the effectiveness of continuity of operations plans, but there’s nothing like the real thing to see how well your employees actually use technology tools to meet their mission when they can’t reach their offices.
Just ask Joseph Johnston Jr. of the Smithsonian Institution or the Transportation Department’s Thomas Barrett. Events outside their brick-and-mortar doorways during the past few years created a learning lab for COOP and telework efforts.
Transportation had a chance to run a live drill this spring. When officials learned that Pope Benedict XVI would celebrate Mass in April just two blocks from DOT’s headquarters. They put their COOP and telework plans into action in “the largest, single-point exercise” the department has ever run, says Barrett, deputy secretary of Transportation.
More than half of DOT’s 5,800 employees who are eligible to work from home or other remote sites that day, avoiding the 45,000-person throng that filled the Washington National’s stadium nearby.
Here’s what the Barrett and Johnston, manager of the Smithsonian’s Network Management Division, suggest:
36% DOT workers who telework today; 50% The department’s new telework goal
SOURCE: Transportation Department
Some of the Smithsonian’s museums on the National Mall were closed to the public for three days because of flooding and power outages in June 2006, when record rains caused major flooding in the Washington area. Several federal agencies were shut down, but internal systems were up and running within 24 hours, allowing employees to continue business as usual, says Johnston
“We used some ingenious methods working with emergency power feeds so people could work from their homes,” he says. “One glitch was finding ways to hook into emergency generators.” When the IT team ran short of electrical and extension cords, employees brought them in from home and electricians patched them together.
There was a slight delay in making key decisions because several senior managers didn’t realize they had to physically be at one of the Smithsonian’s emergency operation centers (there are four scattered throughout the area). “There is now a realization that we need to have key things in place,” he says.