Article | May 27, 2021
One of the challenges the government faced during the COVID-19 pandemic was keeping operations running. Certain advanced economies and developing nations' business continuity plans gave them an edge over their underdeveloped counterparts. But because of the pandemic, the national economy had suffered the pangs of unemployment to fuel the malicious intents of cyber-attackers, thus, protecting government assets that carried important economic information became a national priority.
National security and staying competitive with other economies worldwide are becoming increasingly crucial in elevating a country’s economy. Keeping all public-sector companies and federal agencies running efficiently is a foundational block for the economy. Companies in public administration, like the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as different ministries, public sector businesses, and more, need data protection from international cyber-threats. They use disruptive business strategies to make their operations more resilient.
Now, that we know the importance of business continuity in the context of federal government and agencies, let us understand what risks does business continuity management mitigate.
Business Continuity Management in Government Easily Mitigates:
Individuals rely on the government during economic crises and disasters. A crisis or a disaster can be a huge risk to the economy, which can bubble up to an irreversible loss if not handled on a timely basis. Mitigating the risks of crises such as natural disasters, cyber security compromises, power and communication outages, terrorism, wars and military activities, global financial crises and more has become crucial. These crises can cause the loss of physical assets, human safety, and infrastructure that hamper government operations. This is why having a BCM plan in place is the need of the hour.
The government must serve and meet the expectations of economic contributors. If there is a divergence or a timely action constraint, the government must maintain peace and harmony for the common good and economic well-being.
Government Continuity to Support Individuals and Public Organizations:
Resuming operations for public organizations and individuals quickly can be almost impossible without the intervention and support of the government. Government continuity is directly proportional to the level of trust, government reputation, and business resiliency. This is possible because the financial loss can be covered by insurance and financial help, as explained below.
Insurance Policy Claims and Coverage: Making it easy to claim insurance during and after the crisis helps individuals and organizations reclaim their finances, thereby restoring essential functions first and full-fledged functions later. Providing reimbursement of expenses and coverage for losses for public organizations and financial assistance for the public sector remains one of the top priorities as far as resuming business operations is concerned post-disaster. Making sure that the insurance can cover the expenses and losses incurred due to the disaster is a part of the business impact analysis (BIA).
Resiliency: Restoring public sector infrastructure in an operating condition, overcoming operational obstacles such as IT, power, and communication outages in a short span of time, and maintaining due vigilance to keep a check on national security builds business resiliency for the public sector.
Reputation and Recovery Management: Reducing the turn-around time to fix and restore normal operations after a disaster provides operational resiliency through recovery management. This keeps a check on the best interests of the economic contributors and enhances their trust and the government’s reputation in the long run.
Now that we understand the risks that a BCP can help mitigate and the role of government policies to support the economic contributors, let us understand how it improves the overall performance of a public organization.
Business Continuity Management for Better Performing Public Organizations:
The federal governments and public organizations have implemented an agile approach to bounce back from disasters, catastrophes, and crises using BCM. Because of this, the federal government is heavily invested into business continuity plans (BCPs) to improve how well their operations work and keep the economy and government stable.
The factors impacting the performance of public organizations using a BCM are as below:
Public organizations must know how BCM components influence performance in public sector organizations.
They must be aware of BCM and the successful implementation of effective BCM. However, some governments that do not invest in a BCM have a much lower level of awareness due to a lack of human resources, finance, and management.
They are allocating enough budget for disaster prevention, preparedness, management, and relief considering the government's initiatives. But not getting enough help from the government can make people unhappy, which can hurt the ruling party and lead to people protesting for their rights.
Even though there is no direct financial benefit or gain from investing in a BCM, BCM testing helps to improve performance significantly.
For governments to consider investing in the successful implementation of BCM and get funding for it, BCM professionals need to predict and evaluate the potential loss due to idle service time and its results.
Each government entity must identify the likelihood of risks, define the best rescue objectives, and indicate the most cost-effective clarification and knowledge about BCM.
Another challenge is using BCM in organizations that cut across several business groups or completing it with collective business-wide support.
These situations show that old management responsibility and regulation are useful for making sure that all members of an organization prefer BCM actions.
Recognizing the potential impacts of BCM on organizational performance is required in order to provide accurate value to the BCM powers, attract consideration, and, finally, obtain adequate assistance from senior management.
In the journey to optimizing the performance of your public sector company using BCM, there are many hurdles that you need to overcome. Let us discuss them further.
Challenges in Maintaining BCPs and Performance Growth in the Public Sector:
Maintaining a business continuity plan as per the recommended guidelines is crucial to optimize its performance and efficacy. Your public sector organization's BCP will need to overcome some of the challenges to enable their performance growth as follows:
Dedication of time from the top management of the public organizations, the ministry, and leaders towards deciding which functions are essential to maintain the BCP.
Lack of complete understanding of all the business functions and their dependencies on other public sector organizations.
Comparing the business functions on the level of criticality.
Not implementing the BCM approach completely.
Tweaking the BCM approach to show everything is taken care of
Inaccurate assumptions are used to create a business continuity plan.
Business Impact Analysis (BIA) - Determining how long a business process can be rendered inoperable without affecting performance.
The Business Continuity Plan (BCP) takes care of aspects such as:
Who will be affected by the business operations disruption?
How and when will customers be notified?
What issues are to be addressed in the first 48 hours?
From the initial response to restoration, unique access roles and functions are assigned.
Testing of BCP should be done regularly with the help of table-top exercises, walkthroughs, crisis communications, emergency enactments
The importance of a BCP cannot be undermined as it minimizes the cost of business disruptions on the operations of public organizations. Let us discuss them in-depth.
The Cost of Not Having a Crisis Plan like a BCP for All Sizes of Public Organizations:
Although the costs involved during times of crisis may be difficult to calculate, there may be significant infrastructure and data recovery charges that can have a long-term impact on business revenue. Monetary loss, revenue loss due to idle time, reputation loss, productivity loss are some of the consequences that small, medium, and large enterprises have to go through. The major losses among them are as under:
Loss of time and revenue for recovery and resuming operations.
The company's brand image and reputation are at stake.
Financial instability and loss
Customer satisfaction is hampered.
Some laws and regulations are violated during idle time.
Distrust and loss of faith among investors
Employee safety is at risk with the consequences of injury and death.
Loss of infrastructure
A business continuity plan has four strategies to boost business resilience. These include crisis and risk management; disaster recovery; incident response management; and business continuity planning.
Acting quickly to mitigate the risks of loss as per incident response management during the event of distress is the first step. Crisis and risk management take care of the plan of action during the event of distress. The disaster recovery plan takes care of resuming the business operations to their normal condition after the disaster has subsided, whereas the business continuity plan takes care of all these aspects to minimize loss during distress as well as the time required to resume normal operations with the help of dedicated software.
Performance optimization for public organizations is the number one priority for economic growth. A business continuity plan can directly boost performance as it encourages organizations to identify essential functions and maintain their operations during uncertain times. It helps save time, money, and safeguards people, processes, and technologies in the long run.
Article | March 11, 2022
Some state governments, such as Massachusetts, have established formal plans to work with localities within their states on cybersecurity. However, as ransomware attacks proliferate across the country and strike big cities and small towns alike, state-level organizations say there needs to be greater IT security coordination between states and municipalities. Last month, the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers released a report, “Stronger Together: State and Local Cybersecurity Collaboration,” designed to showcase best practices for such collaboration.
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With state and local governments beset by a precipitous rise in cyberattacks, new federal legislation might provide some necessary cover where needed. The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act would create a grant program worth $400 million to finance cybersecurity efforts in communities across the country, according to a release. Eligible communities would be able to apply for funds, provided through the Department of Homeland Security, which would be allocated to assist in areas like vulnerability scanning and testing, cyberworkforce development and intelligence sharing, according to the bill text.
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