PS-PREP: expedite, do it right, and create awareness

Get free weekly news by e-mailBrian Zawada, MBCP, reacts to a recent letter about PS-Prep sent to the DHS Secretary by the chairmen of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committees.

I would like to make two comments in response to the recent posting on Continuity Central specific to the letter sent to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano by the chairmen of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committees regarding expediting the implementation of the Public Sector Preparedness (PS-PREP) initiative.

Firstly, however, I think it’s important to revisit the fact that Title IX of the legislation, commonly referred to as PS-PREP, is all about launching a voluntary certification program based on existing standards selected by DHS (for more information, visit http://www.fema.gov/media/fact_sheets/vpsp.shtm).

With that said:

1. Set a launch target and get the certification program right

Specific to the certification effort, I think it’s fair to say that the process to finalize the selection of the PS-PREP standards and the underlying certification process has been slow in coming. The Senate letter correctly pointed out that the deadline established in the legislation has passed, and it shouldn’t take a year to react to public comment regarding the three standards DHS initially selected for inclusion in the program.

Conclusion and recommendations: Set a definitive timeline for the launch of PS-PREP and work to meet that timeline. Quickly finalize the selection of the three standards communicated to the public in late 2009 (although I would recommend using the 2010 version for NFPA 1600), and also finalize the development of the certification process and its associated rules, training and preparation materials. Leverage international certification rules in order to ensure a more efficient launch and broad-based acceptance.

2. We must remember the real objective

The primary purpose of the legislation that included the PS-PREP certification initiative is to improve private sector preparedness. I think most preparedness professionals realize that preparedness does not equal certification. After all, certification isn’t appropriate for all private sector organizations. Instead, the Senate’s letter to DHS should have focused more broadly on influencing DHS toward clarifying the role of standards, how these standards can add value to most private sector organizations (whether they’re planning to pursue certification or not), and clarifying that certification can be valuable and how best to prepare while DHS and ANAB finalize the program.

Conclusion and Recommendations: DHS should continue to expeditiously focus on meeting the spirit and intent of Title IX, but DHS should also take it a step farther, focusing on building awareness and sharing how organizations can leverage standards to improve business continuity performance (regardless of certification). DHS could offer case studies, including case studies that show how companies used standards in disciplines other than business continuity to improve readiness and performance (i.e., security, quality and safety).

Overall, PS-PREP is important and will influence private sector preparedness if done right, which means the program must offer relevant content, tools and perspectives. But to be clear, certification alone won’t benefit everyone; therefore, PS-PREP should enable organizations to better understand leading standards and evaluate themselves based on these standards, in addition to enabling third-party certification.

Author
Brian Zawada, MBCP, is director of consulting, Avalution Consulting. http://www.avalution.com/

•Date: 9th June 2010 • Region: US •Type: Article •Topic: BC general
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