Continuity of government (COG) is the principle of establishing defined procedures that allow a government to continue its essential operations in case of nuclear war or other catastrophic event.
COG was developed by the British government before and during World War II to counter the threat of Luftwaffe bombing during the Battle of Britain. The need for continuity-of-government plans gained new urgency with nuclear proliferation.
Countries during the Cold War and afterwards developed such plans to avoid (or minimize) confusion and disorder in a power vacuum in the aftermath of a nuclear attack.
In the US at least, COG is no longer limited to nuclear emergencies; the Continuity of Operations Plan was activated following the September 11 attacks and has been in effect ever since.
Department of Defense Instructions
DoD Instruction 0-3020.43, March 6, 2007, “Emergency Management and Incident Command on the Pentagon Facilities” [ 60 Pages, 1.64MB ] – Establishes policy, assigns responsibilities. and provides procedures for incident command (IC) and emergency management on the Pentagon Reservation, for DoD activities and DoD-occupied facilities not under the jurisdiction of a Military Department, and for facilities managed by Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) in the National Capital Region (NCR) including the Raven Rock Mountain Complex (RRMC).
A Compilation of Necessary Elements for a Local Government Continuity of Operations Plan, September 2006 [ 87 Pages, 0.32MB ] – National and state homeland security strategies call for continuity of operations plan development. The 2006 Nationwide Plan Review Phase II Report identifies continuity of operations plan development as a state and local goal with a federal goal of providing continuity of operations plan development support. Most local governments do not have a continuity of operation plan or it needs to be updated. Continuity of operations plan guidance is provided by a variety of international, federal, state and local documents. Common, unique and best practice elements are identified and should be contained in a continuity of operations plan. An identified compilation of continuity of operation elements is presented. Planning templates are good for COOP document structure and should contain the compilation of COOP elements, a recommended template is offered. Local government continuity of operations plan developers must independently develop and own their continuity of operations plan based on the compilation COOP elements. An after action-report is a necessary component for continuity of operations plan maintenance and can be used for continuity of operations plan research. Academia must pursue continuity of operations plan research to qualitatively and quantitatively identify effective continuity of operations plans and their respective elements. With the advent of homeland security as an academic pursuit, research opportunity exists and should be supported by the federal government because of the critical nature of an effective COOP for local government in ensuring the continuity of essential functions during and after an event.
Continuity of Government: Current Federal Arrangements and the Future, August 2005 [ 7 Pages, 0.11MB ] – Continuity of government refers to the continued functioning of constitutional government under all circumstances. Arrangements for the continued operation of the federal government in the event of a national emergency or catastrophe are specified in law, policy, and plans, some of which are not public information, given their sensitive, contingent status. This report reviews the public record concerning federal continuity of government arrangements. It will be updated to reflect significant developments.
Continuity of Operations (COOP) in the Executive Branch: Background and Issues for Congress, March 2004 [ 18 Pages, 0.95MB ] – In the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, subsequent biological weapon incidents, and occasional warnings of potential terrorist incursions, policymakers have given renewed attention to continuity of operations (COOP) issues. COOP planning is a segment of federal government contingency planning that refers to the internal effort of an organization, such as a branch of government, department, or office, to assure that the capability exists to continue essential operations in the aftermath of a comprehensive array of potential operational interruptions. It is related to continuity of government (COG) planning. COG plans are designed to ensure survival of a constitutional form of government and the continuity of essential federal functions. This report does not discuss COG planning beyond any direct relationship to COOP planning. Government-wide, COOP planning is critical because much of the recovery from an incident, which might include the maintenance of civil authority, and infrastructure repair, among other recovery activities, presumes the existence of an ongoing, functional government to fund, support, and oversee actions taken. In the executive branch, COOP planning can be viewed as a continuation of basic emergency preparedness planning, and a bridge between that planning and efforts to maintain continuity of government in the event of a significant disruption to government activity or institutions. Because the number and types of potential interruptions are unknown, effective COOP planning must provide, in advance of an incident, a variety of means to assure contingent operations.
Continuity of Operations (COOP) in the Executive Branch: Background and Issues for Congress, November 2004 [ 20 Pages, 0.16MB ] – Continued from the above report.
Continuity of Operations (COOP) in the Executive Branch: Issues in the 109th Congress, January 2005 [ 22 Pages, 0.18MB ] – Spurred in part by occasional warnings of potential terrorist threats in the post- 9/11 era, some policymakers have intensified their focus on continuity of operations (COOP) issues. COOP planning is a segment of federal government contingency planning linked to continuity of government (COG). Together, COOP and COG are designed to ensure survival of a constitutional form of government and the continuity of essential federal functions. This report focuses primarily on executive branch COOP activities. Broadly, COOP planning refers to the internal effort of an organization, such as a branch of government, department, or office, to assure that the capability exists to continue essential operations in response to a comprehensive array of potential operational interruptions. In the executive branch, COOP planning is regarded as a “good business practice,” and part of the fundamental mission of agencies as responsible and reliable public institutions. In the 109th Congress, policy questions and issues might arise as Congress examines the status of COOP planning within the executive branch of the federal government and the implications of that planning for overall agency emergency preparedness. Some of the issues surrounding COOP planning are discussed in this report, including authority to activate and implement COOP plans, defining essential activities to be maintained by a COOP plan; budgeting for COOP activities; congressional committee jurisdiction; and attention to COOP and preparedness matters.
Federal Response to a Domestic Nuclear Attack (Counterproliferation Papers, Future Warfare Series, Number 46) August 2009 [ 36 Pages, 0.35MB ] – The United States government needs to plan for and prepare against terrorist attacks. Terrorism, when combined with weapons of mass destruction, increases the planning complexity. In the event of a nuclear terrorist attack, the government will need to conduct consequence management in the affected areas, govern the non-affected areas, and prevent future attacks. This paper examines what actions, following a nuclear terrorist attack on domestic soil, produce the broadest and deepest results and what options the President has to address such a national emergency. The federal government must address the national effects caused by the attack itself as well as the anticipated results caused by communities enacting protective measures at the detriment of their neighbors. To produce the list of coordinated actions and options, this paper uses a scenario where a terrorist loads a 10-kiloton (kt) weapon into a truck, drives it to the nation’s capital, and detonates it. After detonation, the government must attempt to mitigate the weapon’s real and perceived effects. A review of the mitigating responses reveals that some actions are nearly impossible without prior planning and coordination. Additionally, the government must operate within a framework of constitutionally granted authorities. Continuity of government is assumed sufficient to exercise command and control and is beyond the scope of this paper. It is also beyond the scope of this paper to present more than a cursory overview of preventing a subsequent attack.
The Potential Use of Civil Air Patrol to Support Continuity of Government in the Executive Branch, 13 August 1985 [ 7 Pages, 1MB ] – The Federal Government needs to ensure its continuous function during and after domestic and national security emergencies. The Civil Air Patrol, by the nature of its diverse and distributed resources in the United States, can play a significant role in governmental preparedness, response, and reconstruction in the face of emergency.