The Continuity of Operations Plan refers to the preparations and institutions maintained by the United States government, providing survival of government operations in the case of catastrophic events.
2.1 George W. Bush Administration
2.2 Clinton Administration
2.3 George H. W. Bush Administration
2.4 Reagan Administration
2.5 Carter Administration
2.6 Truman Administration
4 See also
5 External links
A Continuity of Operations Plan (or Continuity of Government Plan) has been a part of government operations since at least the Cold War, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower provided by executive order various measures which were supposed to ensure that the government of the United States would be able to continue in case of nuclear war. For many years these plans were kept tightly under wraps, partly out of the consideration that detailed knowledge of these plans would enable the Soviet Union to more effectively launch a nuclear attack and partly out of concern for the public panic which could follow a revelation that their government was busily planning for post-apocalyptic survival. These plans were considered less important after the end of the Cold War but regained some prominence after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when speculation arose that terrorists could destroy significant parts of the government in a short space of time.
The secret nature of these plans have since created a host of conspiracy theories on the supposed "true agenda" of the Continuity of Operations program. Much of the government's plans for post-nuclear war survival remain secret, and some of the measures that are known are controversial.
These measures included construction of underground facilities such as "Mount Weather," a hollowed-out putatively nuclear-proof mountain in western Virginia (mailing address: Berryville, Virginia). The public can now tour one such facility, intended to house the entire U.S. Congress, on the grounds of the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Other provisions of the plans included executive orders that designated certain government officials to assume Cabinet and other Executive Branch positions and form a shadow government if the primary office holders were killed in a nuclear exchange. There has been a formal line of succession to the presidency since 1792 (currently to be found in the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, (3 U.S.C. § 19). This runs from the Vice President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, President pro tempore of the Senate, and then through the Cabinet Secretaries in a sequence specified by Congress.
These Cold War-era plans (both real and rumored) were criticized for, among other things,
the danger that unelected persons could assume the Presidency and other appointed offices, using their sweeping emergency powers to create a dictatorship;
the vast amounts of money spent on these programs;
the contrast between the safe underground hideaways available to high government officials, and the relatively weak or nonexistent measures taken to protect members of the general public from nuclear attack;
the idea that the ready availability of shelters would make any "war hawks" type of people that might be at the Pentagon less averse to nuclear war;
the rumored availability of the shelters to unpopular persons such as the Saudi royal family.
Today, the threat of a massive nuclear attack on the U.S. seems remote, and most of the reasons some once had for worry about the Continuity of Government plan have abated. Now, the bunkers are used for more mundane continuity-of-operations purposes, and the government workers who have to put in occasional shifts there complain that the facilities are old and musty.
The George W. Bush Administration put the Continuity of Operations plan into effect for the first time directly following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Their implementation involves a rotating staff of 75 to 150 senior officials and other government workers from every Cabinet department and other parts of the executive branch in two secure bunkers on the East Coast. Friends, family and co-workers can only reach them through a toll-free number and personal extensions.
The Bush Administration officially admitted the implementation of the plan on March 1, 2002. Key congressional leaders say they didn’t know this government-in-waiting had been established.
On July 18, 2007 Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., a member of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, was denied access to the classified version of the continuity of government plan. Though members can access classified information, this is the first time documents have been denied.  As of August 17, 2007, efforts by the committee to secure a copy of the plan continue. 
Since September 11, 2001, the newly created Department of Homeland Security has conducted three exercises to test continuity plans. The first, named "Forward Challenge '04", took place from May 12-13, 2004, and included more than 40 government agencies. The second major exercise took place from June 20-24 in 2005. Titled "Pinnacle", the exercise tested responses to various emergencies, including a hypothetical act of terrorism. "Forward Challenge '06" was the third major exercise, and took place on June 19, 2006. This reportedly involved nearly 4000 government personnel.
A fourth test took place during the October 15–20, 2007 NORAD and USNORTHCOM-sponsored exercise VIGILANT SHIELD 2008 where, "...events will test USNORTHCOM’s ability to conduct continuity of operations..." 
A document named in italics supersedes the following document.
George W. Bush AdministrationNSPD 51 National Security Presidential Directive 51, "National Continuity Policy", May 9, 2007 (supersedes Presidential Decision Directive 67) (also known as HSPD 20 Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20) 
Clinton AdministrationFederal Preparedness Circular 65, "Federal Executive Branch Continuity of Operations (COOP)", July 26, 1999
"Federal Response Plan" [FEMA 9230.1-PL], April 1999
Presidential Decision Directive 67, "Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations", October 21, 1998
41 Code of Federal Regulations 101-2, "Occupant Emergency Program", revised as of July 1, 1998
36 Code of Federal Regulations 1236, "Management of Vital Records", revised as of July 1, 1998
Presidential Decision Directive 63, "Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP)", May 22, 1998
Presidential Decision Directive 62, "Protection Against Unconventional Threats to the Homeland and Americans Overseas", May 22, 1998
FPC 65 Federal Response Planning Guidance 01-94, "Continuity of Operations (COOP)", December 4, 1994
George H. W. Bush AdministrationPDD 67 National Security Directive 69, "Enduring Constitutional Government", June 2, 1992
FPC 65 Federal Preparedness Circular 61, "Emergency Succession to Key Positions of the Federal Departments and Agencies", August 2, 1991
FPC 65 Federal Preparedness Circular 62, "Delegation of Authorities for Emergency Situations", August 1, 1991
Federal Preparedness Circular 60, "Continuity of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government at the Headquarters Level During National Security Emergencies", November 20,1990
NSD 69 National Security Directive 37, "Enduring Constitutional Government", April 18, 1990
Executive Order 12656, "Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities", November 18, 1988
Section 202 The head of each Federal department and agency shall ensure the continuity of essential functions in any national security emergency by providing for: succession to office and emergency delegation of authority in accordance with applicable law; safekeeping of essential resources, facilities, and records; and establishment of emergency operating capabilities.
Executive Order 12472, "Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Telecommunications Functions", April 3, 1984
NSD 69 NSDD 55, "Enduring National Leadership" September 14, 1982
Executive Order 12148, "Federal Emergency Management", July 20, 1979
National Security Act of 1947, July 26, 1947
The Continuity of Operations Plan involves numerous bunkers, special airplanes, and communication systems. Much of the information about them is classified, however information on various systems has been released by the government or described to the public by reporters and writers. Since many of the details are classified, the public information may be incorrect. Also they are subject to change without public notice so this list may not reflect current plans.
BunkersDuring the Cold War, the United States constructed bunkers to help provide survivability to military command and government officials. Some have been decommissioned since the Cold War. The ones that are still considered to be in operation are listed here.
Cheyenne Mountain Directorate - The most famous bunker in the world is the former home of NORAD. Becoming fully operational on April 20, 1966, it is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Currently, the military has the goal of placing the operations center on “warm stand-by,” meaning that the facility will be maintained and ready for use on short notice as necessary, but not used on a daily basis. In the event of an emergency deemed serious enough, NORAD and USNORTHCOM would use the bunker for C4ISTAR of America's military.
Site R (Raven Rock) - Near Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, Site R is the emergency home for The Pentagon. Vice President Cheney is reported to have stayed here after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Mount Weather - The Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center is a government facility located near Bluemont, Virginia. It houses operations and training facilities above ground for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and contains an underground facility designed to house key components of the American government in the case of nuclear war. During the September 11 attacks a line of government cars and limousines with police escort was seen heading from Washington D.C. to Mount Weather. It has been suggested that Vice President Dick Cheney has been at Mount Weather from time to time, as it is the quintessential "secure undisclosed location". Since September 11, 2001 Mount Weather has seen a dramatic increase in staffing and support. It is believed that Mount Weather has largely assumed the functions of the facility at the Greenbrier, which was to house the U.S. Congress in an emergency, since that shelter was decommissioned.
AirplanesAir Force One is the term for any Air Force plane the President of the United States travels on. However, the term normally refers to a Boeing VC-25A the President normally uses. While the VC-25A is equipped with numerous systems to ensure its survival, in an emergency, it would be recommended that he or she use the National Airborne Operations Center.
"Nightwatch" in flightNational Airborne Operations Center (codenamed Nightwatch) is a Boeing E-4 specially built to serve as a survivable mobile command post for the National Command Authority (NCA). Either the President or the Secretary of Defense may use it. It is also possible that the President would authorize the Vice President or others to use it, depending on the circumstances.
Looking Glass is USSTRATCOM's Airborne Command Post, designed to take over in case NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain Directorate is destroyed or incapable of communicating with strategic forces. Beginning February 3, 1961, an Air Force Looking Glass aircraft was in the air at all times 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. On July 24, 1990, Looking Glass ceased continuous airborne alert but remained on ground or airborne alert 24 hours a day. On Oct. 1, 1998, the U.S. Navy replaced the U.S. Air Force. In addition, a battle staff now flies with the TACAMO crew.
CommunicationCommunication is vital during a catastrophic event. Generally, military communication links are considered more "survivable" since they are designed for extreme situations, such as nuclear war. The Defense Information Systems Agency is in charge of supporting command, control, communications, and information systems for the military and would support the NCA. It is assumed that the various bunkers and airplanes have been equipped with special communication equipment to survive a catastrophe.
Internet - The Internet began as the ARPANET, a program funded by the U.S. military. Although highly rumored to be so, ARPANET was not designed to survive a nuclear attack or similar disaster. The Internet is designed with the capability to withstand losses of large portions of the underlying networks, but due to the huge numbers of people using it, it would likely be jammed and unable to handle communication if it suffered a large amount of damage. During a localized emergency, it is highly useful. The loss of electrical power to an area can make accessing the Internet difficult or impossible, however.
Communications satellites - Basically immune to any ground catastrophe, it is expected that military communication satellites would provide the government with the ability to communicate in any situation other than one that includes a direct attack upon the satellites.
Homeland security takes over communications May 9, 2007
(16) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall: (h) As Executive Agent of the National Communications System, develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive continuity communications architecture.
Business continuity planning
Critical Infrastructure Protection
Continuity of government
National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive
National Security Directive
National Response Plan
"Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations" - Description of the secret Presidential Decision Directive 67, October 21, 1998
Continuity of Operations Planning Telework in disaster preparedness
"Federal Executive Branch Continuity of Operations (COOP)" - Federal Preparedness Circular 65, July 26, 1999
FEDERAL PREPAREDNESS CIRCULAR 65, June 15, 2004 (from FEMA site)
Continuity of Government Commission
National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive Subject: National Continuity Policy May 9, 2007 - Revocation. Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998 ("Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations"), including all Annexes thereto, is hereby revoked.
References^ NOTE: On the Audio Commentary with Historical Figures during Scene 17 (c 1:12) of the Thirteen Days (film) DVD, the commentator states that President Eisenhower ran the US government outside of Washington DC for 4 days in 1956.
^ "", The Oregonian. Accessed September 7. 2007.
^ AMERICA NEEDS A PLAN TO PROVIDE FOR CONTINUITY OF GOVERNMENT, Congressional Record: August 2, 2007, Page H9548.
^ "", Curry County Reporter. Accessed September 7. 2007.
^ Fact Sheet: Forward Challenge 04, Homeland Security Press Room. Accessed June 6, 2006.
^ Department of Homeland Security Announces Pinnacle Exercise to Test Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plans, Homeland Security Press Room. Accessed June 6, 2006.
^ Back to the Bunker, The Washington Post. Accessed June 6, 2006.
^ "", Fact Sheet – Exercise VIGILANT SHIELD 2008
^ North American Aerospace Defense Command
^ Raven Rock Underground Command Center (Site R)
^ TACAMO - Take Charge And Move Out
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