One of the consequences of the recent East Coast storm was that several cloud computing services were knocked off line for several hours. As government services and information make greater use of the web and cloud services, interruptions to those services will have a greater impact during the next outage. To address such a situation, USACM has developed recommendations for federal agencies to better prepare for when storms or other challenges increase the stress on providing government information and services online. We submitted those recommendations to U.S. Chief Information Office Steven VanRoekel earlier this week.
While the USACM recommendations are focused on federal agencies, the nature of the suggestions could be adapted for state and local governments.
- Agencies should prepare plans and procedures to minimize website interruption and/or disruption. Under the guidance of the Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) in collaboration with agency Chief Information Officers, federal agencies should develop the capacity to have backup sites available in the event that an agency website is rendered inoperable. Such a plan would include a prioritization of services and information in the event a full backup is not possible under particular circumstances.
- The Federal CIO should develop plans to minimize website interruption/disruption for the Executive Office of the President and the federal government. Such plans would include practices and principles that agencies can use in general, or customize to fit their specific digital public services and agency needs. Such practices and principles could include a chain of control for websites and designations of alternate personnel in case primary website personnel are unavailable.
- Federal government plans should coordinate federal e-government tools and resources with local and state e-government services. The federal government should exchange best practices with state and local governments and develop communication protocols for information exchange among key-government agency contacts in the event of outages and/or reduced services. This communication exchange should also go from state and local governments to the federal government as appropriate.
USACM will be circulating the recommendations over the next few weeks, and exploring possible next steps in this area.