Main Content

Guidance & Directives

The Doctrinal portion of this site highlights the national policy and guidance in which Continuity of Operations initiatives are based. Continuity plans and their supporting Multi-Year Strategy and Program Management Plans provide the framework for the Nation’s Continuity program. Planning addresses the guidance and assistance provided by the Continuity of Operations Division to support Federal Executive Branch departments and agencies, state, territorial, tribal, and local government jurisdictions and private sector organization’s continuity preparedness. Included in this section is an overview of plans and programs designed to support the nation’s continuity programs and the national essential functions.

National Security Presidential Directive-51/Homeland Security Presidential Directive-20

National Security Presidential Directive-51/Homeland Security Presidential Directive-20 (NSPD-51/HSPD-20) (PDF 33KB, TXT 19KB), National Continuity Policy, issued May 4, 2007, emphasizes the importance of a comprehensive national program involving all government levels and the private sector for integrated and scalable continuity planning. NSPD-51/HSPD-20 prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides continuity guidance for the states, territories, tribal and local governments, and private sector organizations.

This Directive designates the Secretary of Homeland Security as the President’s lead agent for coordinating overall national continuity operations and activities, and provides continuity planners with substantive new guidance designed to enhance the nation’s continuity capabilities. It also directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to assist with the practical implementation of policy guidance through the development and promulgation of continuity planning requirements and guidance for federal and non-federal government jurisdictions and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators.

National Continuity Policy Implementation Plan

On May 4, 2007, President George H.W. Bush issued the National Continuity Policy (“Policy”) in National Security Presidential Directive-51/Homeland Security Presidential Directive-20 (NSPD-51/HSPD-20), which sets forth a new vision to ensure the continuity of our government. This National Continuity Policy Implementation Plan (“Plan”) was directed by the President to be the means by which the Policy is translated into action and is intended to be a comprehensive and integrated list of directives for the Federal executive branch in order to ensure the effectiveness and survivability of our national continuity capability.

This Plan directs that continuity planning occur simultaneously with the development of Federal department and agency programs. This means that organizations must incorporate redundancy and resiliency as a means and an end. This Plan provides the guidance and direction necessary to achieve that result and identifies how the Federal executive branch will utilize thorough preparation and a continuous Continuity Program Management Cycle to analyze and execute programs, policies, and procedures to ensure continuity.

Federal Continuity Directive (FCD) 1

Federal Continuity Directive (FCD) 1 CoverFederal Continuity Directive 1, Federal Continuity Directive 1, Federal Executive Branch National Continuity Program and Requirements, approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security in October 2012, provides operational direction for the development of continuity plans and programs for the Federal Executive Branch. This directive supersedes Federal Continuity Directive 1, dated October 2008, and was developed by NCP's Continuity of Operations Division in coordination with its interagency partners.

FCD 1 describes the key elements of a viable continuity capability and the importance of coordinating with non-Federal organizations to establish and maintain a comprehensive and effective national continuity capability. Continuity programs and operations are simply good business practices that ensure government functions and services will be available to our nation’s citizens under all conditions.

The provisions of this directive are applicable at all levels of Federal Executive Branch organizations, regardless of their location, and are useful for all non-Federal entities.

Federal Continuity Directive (FCD) 2

Federal Continuity Directive (FCD) 2 Cover

Federal Continuity Directive 2 (FCD 2) (PDF), Federal Executive Branch Mission Essential Function and Primary Mission Essential Function Identification, approved by the DHS Secretary in July 2013, provides direction and guidance for Federal organizations to identify their essential functions and the business process analysis (BPA) and business impact analysis (BIA) that support and identify the relationships between these essential functions.

FCD 2 provides implementation guidelines for the requirements identified in FCD 1, Annex C. It provides direction and guidance to Federal entities for identification of their mission essential functions (MEFs) and potential primary mission essential functions (PMEFs). It also includes checklists to assist in identifying essential functions through a risk management process and identify potential PMEFs that support specific national essential functions (NEFs)—the most critical functions necessary for leading and sustaining our nation during a catastrophic emergency.

FCD – 2 provides guidance and direction for D/As in the process for the identification and periodic review and verification of their Essential Functions, the Business Process Analyses and Business Impact Analyses that support and identify the relationships among these Essential Functions. NCP has developed a fillable PDF form to assist agencies in completing their Mission Essential Function(MEF)/Business Process Analysis (BPA)/Business Impact Analysis (BIA) process.  The MEF Worksheet consists of a series of forms that identify requirements, inputs, outputs, interdependencies, and the critical elements that assist agencies in identifying their MEFs and candidate Primary Mission Essential Functions (PMEFs) and in completing the required BPAs.  To obtain an electronic copy of the MEF/BPA/BIA worksheet, send an email request to

Continuity Guidance Circular (CGC) 1

Continuity Guidance Circular (CGC) 1 Cover

Continuity Guidance Circular 1 (CGC 1) (PDF), Continuity Guidance for Non-Federal Entities (States, Territories, Tribal, and Local Government Jurisdictions and Private Sector Organizations), was approved by the Assistant Administrator of National Continuity Programs in July 2013. CGC 1 supersedes the Interim Guidance on Continuity of Operations Planning for State and Local Governments, and provides operational guidance for implementing NSPD-51/HSPD-20 for non-Federal entities. CGC 1 provides guidance for developing continuity plans and programs for the sustainment of essential functions and services to our nation’s citizens, under all conditions.

Continuity Guidance Circular (CGC) 2

Continuity Guidance Circular 2 (CGC 2) (PDF), Continuity Guidance for Non-Federal Entities: Mission Essential Functions Identification Process (States, Territories, Tribes, and Local Government Jurisdictions), was approved October 31, 2013, by the Assistant Administrator of National Continuity Programs. CGC 2 provides planning guidance to assist non-Federal entities and organizations in identifying their essential functions. Additionally, CGC 2 describes the use of a systematic Business Process Analysis, Business Impact Analysis, and the development of risk mitigation strategies.

Last Updated: 
11/12/2015 - 16:26