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Continuity Terms

Commonly used terms used in continuity documents and resources.


After-Action Report


The implementation of a continuity plan, in whole or in part.


A classification encompassing all conditions, environmental or human-caused, that have the potential to cause injury, illness, or death; damage to or loss of equipment, infrastructure services, or property; or alternatively causing functional degradation to social, economic or environmental aspects. These include accidents, technological events, natural disasters, space weather, domestic and foreign-sponsored terrorist attacks, acts of war, weapons of mass destruction and chemical, biological (including pandemic), radiological, nuclear or explosive events.

Alternate Locations

Fixed, mobile or transportable locations, other than the primary operating facility, where leadership and continuity personnel relocate in order to perform essential functions following activation of the continuity plan.


Business Impact Analysis


Business Process Analysis

Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

A method of identifying the consequences of failing to perform a function or requirement.

Business Process Analysis (BPA)

A method of examining, identifying, and mapping the functional processes, workflows, activities, personnel expertise, systems, data, interdependencies and alternate locations inherent in the execution of a function or requirement.


Continuity Advisory Group


Continuity of Government


Continuity of Government Readiness Conditions

Cold Site

A facility that is neither staffed nor operational on a daily basis. Telecommunications, IT equipment, and infrastructure is typically present at the location, however teams of specialized personnel must be deployed to activate the systems before the site can become operational. Basic infrastructure and environmental controls are present (e.g., electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems), yet systems are not continuously active.


The ability to provide uninterrupted services and support, while maintaining organizational viability, before, during, and after an incident that disrupts typical operations.

Continuity Advisory Group (CAG)

A sub-continuity policy coordination committee focused on interagency implementation of continuity programs. The CAG is comprised of Continuity Coordinators, or their designees, from Category I, II, III and IV organizations. Key state and local government representatives from the National Capital Region, and representatives from the legislative and judicial branches are invited to participate in meetings, as appropriate.

Continuity Capability

The ability of an organization to continue to perform its essential functions, using COOP and COG programs and continuity requirements that have been integrated into the organization’s daily operations. The primary goal is preserving of our form of government under the U.S. Constitution and the continued performance of NEFs and organizational essential functions under all conditions.

Continuity Coordinator

The senior accountable official, designated by leadership or elected officials, who is responsible for oversight of the continuity program. Continuity coordinators are supported by a continuity manager and other continuity planners within subcomponent levels throughout the organization or government.

Continuity Manager

The senior continuity planner is responsible for coordinating overall continuity activities within the organization or jurisdiction. This individual managing day-to-day continuity programs, coordinating continuity planners within the organization, representing his/her organization’s program externally, as appropriate, and reporting to the continuity coordinator on continuity program activities.

Continuity of Government (COG)

A coordinated effort within the executive, legislative, or judicial branches to ensure that essential functions continue to be performed before, during, and after an emergency or threat. Continuity of government is intended to preserve the statutory and constitutional authority of elected officials at all levels of government across the United States.

Continuity of Government Readiness Conditions (COGCON)

The COGCON system establishes executive continuity program readiness levels, focusing on emergencies in or credible threats to the National Capital Region, or affecting the performance of NEFs. 

Continuity of Operations (COOP)

An effort within individual organizations to ensure that essential functions continue to be performed during the disruption of typical operations.

Continuity Personnel

Continuity personnel, often called the Emergency Relocation Group, are those individuals identified and assigned to perform essential functions and deliver critical services in the event of a continuity plan activation.

Continuity Plan

A documented plan that details how an individual organization will ensure it can continue to perform its essential functions during a wide range of incidents that impact normal operations.

Continuity Planner

The continuity planner responsible for developing and maintaining an organization or subcomponent continuity plan and integrating and coordinating the continuity plan with broader organizational or governmental guidance, requirements and initiatives.

Continuity Program Management Cycle

An ongoing, cyclical model of planning, training, evaluating and implementing corrective actions for continuity capabilities.


 Continuity of Operations

Corrective Action Program (CAP)

An organized method of documenting and tracking improvement actions for an organization’s continuity program.


Continuity Working Group


 Devolution Emergency Relocation Group


The transfer of statutory authority and responsibility from an organizations primary operating staff and facilities to other staff and alternate locations to sustain essential functions when necessary.

Devolution Emergency Relocation Group

Personnel stationed at a geographically dispersed location, other than the primary location, who are identified to continue performance of essential functions.


Enduring Constitutional Government


 Emergency Management Assistance Compact

Emergency Operating Records

Those types of vital records essential to the continued functioning or reconstitution of an organization during and after an emergency. They include emergency plans and directive(s), orders of succession, delegations of authority, staffing assignments, and selected program records needed to continue the most critical agency operations, as well as related policy or procedural records that assist agency staff in conducting operations under emergency conditions and for resuming normal operations after an emergency.

Emergency Relocation Group (ERG)

Staff assigned to continue performance of essential functions at an alternate location in the event that their primary operating facility or facilities are impacted or incapacitated by an incident.


Emergency Management Performance Grant

Enduring Constitutional Government (ECG)

A cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity to the legislative and judicial branches and the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed. ECG includes the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, the appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the NEFs during a catastrophic emergency.


 Emergency Operations Plan


 Emergency Relocation Group


Essential Supporting Activity

Essential Functions

A subset of government functions that are determined to be critical activities. These essential functions are then used to identify supporting tasks and resources that must be included in the organization’s continuity planning process. In this FCD, the term “essential functions” refers to those functions an organization must continue in a continuity situation, whether the functions are MEFs, PMEFs or ESAs.

Essential Records

Information systems and applications, electronic and hardcopy documents, references, and records needed to support essential functions during a continuity event. The two basic categories of essential records are emergency operating records and rights and interest records. Emergency operating records are essential to the continued functioning or reconstitution of an organization. Rights and interest records are critical to carrying out an organization’s essential legal and financial functions and vital to the protection of the legal and financial rights of individuals who are directly affected by that organization’s activities. The term “vital records” refers to a specific sub-set of essential records relating to birth, death and marriage documents.

Essential Records Packet

An electronic or hardcopy compilation of key information, instructions, and supporting documentation needed to access essential records in an emergency situation.

Essential Supporting Activities (ESAs)

Critical functions that an organization must continue during a continuity activation, but that do not meet the threshold for MEFs or PMEFs.

Executive Branch Department and Agencies (D/As)

The Executive Branch departments and agencies enumerated in 5 U.S.C 101, independent establishments as defined by 5 U.S.C. 104(1), government corporations as defined by 5 U.S.C 103(1), Intelligence agencies as defined by 50 U.S.C. 3003, and the United States Postal Service. These D/As are referred to as “organizations” throughout this FCD.


 Federal Continuity Directive

Federal Continuity Directive (FCD)

A document developed and promulgated by DHS/FEMA, in coordination with the Continuity Advisory Group and in consultation with the Continuity Policy Coordination Committee, which directs Executive Branch organizations to carry out identified continuity planning requirements and assessment criteria.


Federal Emergency Management Agency


 FEMA National Radio System


 Government Emergency Telecommunications Service


Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP)

A program that provides a set of guiding principles for exercise programs, as well as a common approach to exercise program management, design, development, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning.

Hot Site

Hot sites are locations that operate 24 hours a day with fully operational equipment and capacity to immediately assume operations upon loss of the primary facility. A hot continuity facility requires on-site telecommunications, information, infrastructure, equipment, back-up data repositories, and personnel required to sustain essential functions.


Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program


Homeland Security Grant Program


Interagency Continuity Working Group

Interagency Agreement (IAA)

A written agreement entered into between two Federal agencies, or major organizational units within an agency, which specifies the goods to be furnished or tasks to be accomplished by one agency (the servicing agency) in support of the other (the requesting agency).


 Information Technology


Information Technology/Disaster Recovery


Mission Essential Function

Memorandum of Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding (MOA/MOU)

Written agreements between organizations that require specific goods or services to be furnished or tasks to be accomplished by one organization in support of the other.

Mission Essential Functions (MEFs)

The essential functions directly related to accomplishing an organization’s mission as set forth in statutory or executive charter. Generally, MEFs are unique to each organization.


Memorandum of Agreement


Memorandum of Understanding

Multi-Year Strategy and Program Management Plan (MYSPMP)

A plan that guides the development of the organization’s continuity program over a set number of years via a process that ensures the maintenance and continued viability of continuity plans.


 Multi-Year Strategy and Program Management Plan

National Capital Region (NCR)

The National Capital Region was created pursuant to the National Capital Planning Act of 1952 (40 U.S.C. § 71). The Act defined the NCR as the District of Columbia; Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties of Maryland; Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties of Virginia; and all cities now or hereafter existing in Maryland or Virginia within the geographic area bounded by the outer boundaries of the combined area of said counties. The NCR includes the District of Columbia and 11 local jurisdictions in the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

National Continuity Coordinator (NCC)

The Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT). The NCC is responsible for coordinating, without exercising directive authority, the development and implementation of continuity policy for Executive Branch organizations.

National Continuity Policy

It is the policy of the United States to maintain a comprehensive and effective continuity capability, composed of COOP and COG programs, in order to ensure the preservation of our form of government under the Constitution and the continuing performance of NEFs under all conditions (PPD-40, National Continuity Policy).

National Essential Functions (NEFs)

Select functions necessary to lead and sustain the Nation during a catastrophic emergency and that, therefore, must be supported through COOP, COG and ECG capabilities.

National Incident Management System (NIMS)

A system mandated by HSPD-5 providing a consistent nationwide approach for state, local, territorial and tribal governments. This system allows the private-sector and nongovernmental organizations to work effectively and efficiently together to prepare for, respond to and recover from domestic incidents regardless of cause, size or complexity. To provide for interoperability and compatibility among state, local, territorial and tribal capabilities, NIMS includes a core set of concepts, principles and terminology. HSPD-5 identifies these components as the Incident Command System; multi-agency coordination systems; training; identification and management of resources (including systems for classifying types of resources); qualification and certification and the collection, tracking and reporting of incident information and incident resources.


National Continuity Coordinator


National Continuity Programs


 National Essential Function


 Non-Governmental Organization. A nongovernmental entity that serves the interests of its members, individuals, or institutions and is not for private benefit.


National Incident Management System

Nongovernmental Organization (NGO)

An entity with an association that is based on the interests of its members, individuals, or institutions. It is not created by a government, but it may work cooperatively with the government. Such organizations serve a public purpose, not a private benefit. Examples of NGOs include faith-based charity organizations and the American Red Cross. NGOs, including voluntary and faith-based groups, provide relief services to sustain life, reduce physical and emotional distress, and promote the recovery of disaster victims. Often these groups provide specialized services that help individuals with disabilities. NGOs and voluntary organizations play a major role in assisting emergency managers before, during, and after an emergency

Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP)

A short-term emergency response plan which establishes procedures for evacuating buildings or sheltering-in-place to safeguard lives and property. Organizations may refer to this plan as the Emergency Plan or Building Closure Plan. Common scenarios that would lead to the activation of these plans include inclement weather, fire, localized power outages and localized communications outages. These types of events are generally short-term in nature.


Primary Mission Essential Function


 Planning, Organization, Equipment, Training, and Exercise


 Presidential Policy Directive


Actions taken to plan, organize, equip, train, and exercise to build and sustain the capabilities necessary to prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to and recover from threats and hazards.


The capabilities necessary to avoid, prevent, or stop a threatened or actual act of terrorism. For the purposes of the prevention framework, the term “prevention” refers to preventing imminent threats.

Primary Mission Essential Functions (PMEFs)

Those MEFs that must be continuously performed to support or implement the uninterrupted performance of NEFs.

Primary Operating Facility

The facility where an organization’s leadership and staff operate on a day-to-day basis.

Private Sector

Organizations and individuals that are not part of any governmental structure. The private sector includes for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, formal and informal structures, commerce, and industry.


The capabilities necessary to secure the homeland against acts of terrorism and manmade or natural disasters.


Public Switched Telephone Network


The process by which surviving and/or replacement organization personnel resume normal operations.


Those capabilities necessary to assist communities affected by an incident to recover effectively, including, but not limited to, rebuilding infrastructure systems; providing adequate interim and long-term housing for survivors; restoring health, social, and community services; promoting economic development; and restoring natural and cultural resources.



The state of having duplicate capabilities, such as systems, equipment or resources.


The ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and recover rapidly from operational disruptions. Resilience includes the ability to withstand and recover from deliberate attacks, accidents or naturally occurring threats or incidents.


The capabilities necessary to save lives, protect property and the environment, and meet basic human needs after an incident has occurred.


The potential for an unwanted outcome resulting from an incident, event, or occurrence, as determined by its likelihood and the associated consequences. With respect to continuity, risk may degrade or hinder the performance of essential functions and affect critical assets associated with continuity operations.

Risk Analysis

A systematic examination of the components and characteristics of risk.

Risk Assessment

A formal risk assessment consists of employing software programs or recognized expert analysis to assess risk trends. Examples of informal assessments include a manual study of fire loss, burn injuries or life loss over a period of time and the causative factors for each occurrence. 

A product or process which collects information and assigns values to risks for the purpose of informing priorities, developing or comparing courses of action, and informing decision making.

Risk Management

The process of identifying, analyzing, assessing, and communicating risk and accepting, avoiding, transferring or controlling it to an acceptable level considering associated costs and benefits of any actions taken.


 State, local, territorial, and tribal


A formal, sequential assumption of a position’s authorities and responsibilities, to the extent not otherwise limited by law, by the holder of another specified position as identified in statute, executive order, or other presidential directive, or by relevant D/A policy, order or regulation if there is no applicable executive order, other presidential directive or statute in the event of a vacancy in office or a position holder dies, resigns or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of that pertinent position.


A work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties and responsibilities of his/her position, and other authorized activities, from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work.

Test, Training, and Exercises (TT&E)

Activities designed to familiarize, impart skills, and ensure viability of continuity plans. TT&E aids in verifying that an organization’s continuity plan is capable of supporting the continued execution of the organization’s essential functions throughout the duration of a continuity plan activation.


Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment


Natural or manmade occurrence, individual, entity, or action that has or indicates the potential to harm life, information, operations, the environment and/or property.


Referring to any Indian tribe, band, nation or other organized group or community, including any Alaskan Native Village as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act (85 Stat. 688) [43 U.S.C.A. and 1601 et seq.], that is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians.


 Telecommunications Service Priority


Test, Training, and Exercise

Warm Site

Locations that have a minimum acceptable level of infrastructure in-place, and also possess the IT and telecommunications equipment to become operational as soon as possible, but not later than 12 hours after continuity activation. In order to become active, a warm facility requires additional personnel, equipment, supplies, software or customization. Warm sites generally possess the resources necessary to sustain critical mission/business processes but lack the capacity to activate all systems or components.

Whole Community

Preparedness is a shared responsibility; it calls for the involvement of everyone — not just the government — in preparedness efforts. By working together, everyone can help keep the nation safe from harm and help keep it resilient when struck by hazards, such as natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and pandemics.

Whole Community includes:

  • Individuals and families, including those with access and functional needs
  • Businesses
  • Faith-based and community organizations
  • Nonprofit groups
  • Schools and academia
  • Media outlets
  • All levels of government, including state, local, tribal, territorial, and federal partners

The phrase “whole community” appears a lot in preparedness materials, as it is one of the guiding principles. It means two things:

  1. Involving people in the development of national preparedness documents.
  2. Ensuring their roles and responsibilities are reflected in the content of the materials.


Whole Community

The whole community is an inclusive approach to emergency preparedness and management through the inclusion of individuals and families, including those with access and functional needs; businesses; faith-based and community organizations; non-profit groups; schools and academia; media outlets; and all levels of government, including state, local, tribal, territorial and federal partners.


Wireless Priority Service