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U.S. Department of Homeland Security  
  

Federal Government Tests Continuity of Operations Plans

Exercise intended to enhance national readiness

For Immediate Release
Press Office
Contact: 202-282-8010
May 13, 2004

Fact Sheet:  Forward Challenge 04

The Department of Homeland Security and more than 40 other agencies are testing their continuity of operations (COOP) plans during Forward Challenge 04 (FC 04), a two day exercise May 12-13.

The exercise is a full-scale, scenario-based event in which Federal departments and agencies are implementing COOP plans, deploying pre-designated personnel and leadership at alternate sites away from the National Capital Region and performing essential functions at those locations.  

In order to ensure Federal departments and agencies are prepared to continue essential operations during any type of threat or emergency, DHS maintains an active program of planning, testing, training and evaluation of the Federal Executive Branch COOP program.  Forward Challenge 04 tests the federal government's readiness to respond and ability to resume critical operations during an emergency situation.  

"This is the first-time that the Federal government has conducted a government-wide test of its continuity of operations plans," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.  "This exercise provides a unique opportunity for the federal government to evaluate and refine its operational readiness to ensure that officials in federal departments and agencies can function away from their normal headquarters and make response decisions in the event of an emergency incident."    

FC 04 is being directed by Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is designed for departments and agencies to demonstrate the ability to fulfill critical agency tasks while away from the normal work site. The critical agency tasks include: establishing an operational capability at an alternate facility; implementing succession and delegation of authority plans; demonstrating an interoperable communications capability; demonstrating redundant communication capabilities; and demonstrating the ability to access the vital records that they would need to conduct essential functions from their remote location.  

FC 04 provides the framework for testing interoperability and interconnectivity between departments and agencies from COOP sites scattered throughout many states and regions and will ensure compliance with the requirement to engage in continuity of operations activities.

In the exercise scenario, federal officials are faced with emergencies and events that affect their abilities to carry out essential functions.  Although FC 04's terrorism-based scenario is realistic, it is not based on specific intelligence.    

Under the FC 04 scenario, all federal government-occupied buildings simulate closure as a result of the combination of events and credible threats of actions from various terrorist groups and individuals.  Every major department and agency in the National Capital Region is scheduled to participate in Forward Challenge 04.

The Department of Homeland Security will provide photos and video footage of the Forward Challenge 04 exercise.  Photos may be found online at http://www.photolibrary.fema.gov. The satellite coordinates for this feed are:

Time:  15:30 - 16:00 EDT
Satellite:  AMC9C (C-Band) (Old GE2, AMC2) @ 85 degrees West
Transponder: 22
Downlink:  4140 Horizontal

 

 


 
Fact Sheet: Forward Challenge 04

During May 12-13, 2004, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is conducting the first ever, federal-government wide continuity of operations (COOP) exercise "Forward Challenge 04."  More than 40 federal agencies, including DHS, are testing and evaluating COOP procedures during a simulated terrorism-based scenario to ensure essential functions and responsibilities continue during an emergency or situation that may disrupt normal Federal government operations. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the Department of Homeland Security, has responsibility for oversight and management of the Federal Executive Branch COOP program.

A threat or emergency condition may require federal departments and agencies to relocate to alternative sites.  Based on FEMA Federal Preparedness Circulars, all Federal agencies and departments have COOP plans that ensure capability to perform essential functions under various conditions. Federal departments and agencies must conduct tests, training and exercises to demonstrate capability of plans.

The objectives of this exercise are focused on executing the COOP at the Federal level.  In an actual event, notification, communication and coordination with our state, local and private sector partners would be a top priority, but for the purposes of this exercise we are focusing on the Federal level.

Objectives for Forward Challenge 04 exercise include:

  • Establishing an operation capability at an alternate facility;
  • Implementing succession and delegation of authority plans;
  • Demonstrating an interoperable communications capability;
  • Demonstrating a redundant communication capability; and
  • Demonstrate the ability to access vital records necessary to conduct normal operations from a designated alternative location.

Forward Challenge 04 provides the framework for testing interoperability and interconnectivity between Federal departments and agencies from individual COOP sites throughout the United States and will ensure compliance with a recently mandated requirement to engage in continuity of operations activities.  Federal departments and agencies will be evaluating their individual response.

Participating Federal Agencies

  • Homeland Security Council (HSC)
  • National Security Council (NSC)
  • Director Central Intelligence (DCI)
  • Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP)
  • US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Commerce (DOC)
  • Department of Defense (DOD-OSD)
  • Department of Education (Ed)
  • Department of Energy (DOE)
  • Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
  • Department of Interior (DOI)
  • Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • Department of Labor (DOL)
  • Department of State (State)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Department of Treasury (TREAS)
  • Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
  • Federal Reserve Board
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • General Services Administration (GSA)
  • National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • National Communications System (NCS)
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
  • National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
  • Peace Corps (PC)
  • Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Selective Service System (SSS)
  • Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
  • United States Coast Guard (USCG)
  • United States Postal Service (USPS)
  • US Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • United States Secret Service (USSS)
  • US Courts

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