Each office should have a continuity of operations plan, including minimum safety requirements and an emergency communications plan, that is made available to all staff, so offices continue functioning for the public.
The Committee determined that offices do not have standard continuity of operations plan (COOP) framework. This leads to inconsistency and confusion and puts staff in a precarious position. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, some offices required staff to report to the office for work, while some government and health officials were urging all Americans to stay home. Providing House offices with a standardized, detailed COOP that can be customized to fit individual office and district needs will minimize inconsistencies across offices and ensure the safety of Members and staff.
Office COOPs should include detailed emergency communication plans for office staff that explain how staff will communicate, phone forwarding plans, email management, and video conferencing systems. For new Members, these plans should be developed during orientation; for current Members, these plans should be developed at the beginning of the next congressional session. Plans should be included in employee handbooks and made easily accessible to all staff. District office handbooks could include information on how to transition to remote work, including for phone and computer operations. Additionally, District Directors should be consulted during the development of COOPs to ensure that district offices have a telework policy in place.