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News Release

Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Contact: Eldon Girdner
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director Kay Coles James Announces Training Sessions For Agencies on Emergency Preparedness

Training involving Chief Human Capital Officers Subcommittee will focus on deficiencies within agencies on emergency preparedness as identified by OPM survey

Washington, DC -- In response to needs identified by an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) survey of agencies on emergency preparedness, OPM will conduct two training sessions to help agencies focus on areas where the survey indicated the greatest room for improvement - planning for, executing and evaluating shelter-in-place and evacuation drills, as well as the use of telework for employees during an emergency. The sessions are being held on May 21 and June 11 in Washington, DC.

OPM Director Kay Coles James stated, "Planning and preparation is the key to ensuring federal agencies meet their responsibility to protect all their employees and to maintain the ability to carry out basic, necessary agency functions. These OPM-sponsored sessions provide agencies with one more way to accomplish the essential needs. I am looking forward to the full involvement of the CHCO Emergency Subcommittee." The CHCO Council (Chief Human Capital Officers) under CHCO Chairman James has focused on emergency preparedness through the creation of an emergency subcommittee. The committee - compromised of Gail Lovelace, Ron James, Vince Taylor and John Seal - will lend important additional cross-government expertise to our planning and preparedness efforts.

The emergency survey asked agencies to identify concrete steps that have been taken in the areas of agency planning, employee communication, and building operations. Specific actions the criteria covered included, but were not limited to, shelter-in-place drills, distribution of emergency guides, and the designation of emergency personnel.

This year's survey was expanded to include agency efforts to identify and name emergency personnel to conduct essential agency operations during a natural or man-made emergency.

In key areas surveyed, more agencies are taking concrete action by updating emergency plans, communicating and training employees about the plans already in place, practicing shelter-in-place and evacuation drills and making employees aware of the availability of employee assistance programs as well as other measures.

Among the key findings of the 2004 survey:

  • Sixty-five percent of agencies surveyed reported they have designated emergency personnel for agency mission continuity.
  • Sixty percent of agencies surveyed report having an updated Occupant Emergency Plan - this is a 36 percent increase from 2003.
  • Sixty-three percent of agencies have conducted threat assessments - a 47 percent increase from 2003.
  • Seventy-one percent of agencies reported ensuring the protection of special needs employees - a 65 percent increase from 2003.
  • Seventy percent of agencies surveyed have communicated their emergency preparedness plans to their employees.

While agencies improved in every area surveyed, some key areas are in need of further improvement:

  • Many agencies still have not communicated with employees and union representatives about security measures in place at the agency.
  • Fewer than half the agencies have practiced shelter-in-place and evacuation fire drills regularly.
  • Only 43 percent of agencies have a policy regarding the use of telework during an emergency.

In emergency conditions, the federal government must, in emergency conditions, close all or some of its agencies as a result of certain events (e.g., weather, protests, terrorist incidents) that prevent employees from physically reaching their official duty stations. The key to ensuring the government maintains its ability to carry out basic, necessary agency functions in the face of such events is advance planning and preparation, including the designation of emergency personnel.

OPM has already conducted a forum in October 2003 and again in January 2004 to address each agency's authorities upon closure of the Federal Government. The session focused, in particular, on the authority of agency heads to designate emergency personnel. Approximately 250 individuals from 75 agencies attended these forums.

Participants for this session can register at

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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