COOP Planning Guide

The COOP Planning Guide contains hyperlinks to facilitate navigation within the document and to external sources. Each of the individual sections of the Guide is outlined below.


Section I: COOP Planning for State Courts

COOP stands for continuity of operations; courts develop a COOP plan to ensure they know what to do if faced with an emergency that threatens continuation of normal operations. Traditionally, a COOP plan is developed and implemented for situations in which the courthouse or court-related facilities are threatened or inaccessible (e.g., as a result of a natural or man-made disaster). A traditional COOP plan establishes effective processes and procedures to quickly deploy pre-designated personnel, equipment, vital records and supporting hardware and software to an alternative site to sustain organizational operations for up to 30 days. It also covers the resumption of normal operations after the emergency has ended.

Section II: COOP Planning Steps

The steps listed below help a court develop a COOP capability in the event of a manmade or natural disaster. Each step includes an explanation of what needs to be done and links to additional resources, if necessary.

Step 1: Initiate the planning process

Step 1a: Provide leadership and develop infrastructure
Step 1b: Review court’s legal authority in COOP planning and execution
Step 1c: Gather information on related COOP planning activities
Step 1d: Specify planning assumptions
Step 1e: Consider potential disaster scenarios

Step 2: Prepare COOP plan elements

Step 2a: Identify & prioritize essential functions
Step 2b: Determine essential functions staff
Step 2c: Establish orders of succession and delegate authorities
Step 2d: Identify alternate facilities
Step 2e: Identify business practices to limit personal contact
Step 2f: Identify communications methods
Step 2g: Ensure interoperable communications
Step 2h: Identify vital records & databases
Step 2i: Develop resources to manage human capital
Step 2j: Prepare drive-away kits
Step 2k: Plan devolution process

Step 3: Prepare COOP plan procedures

Step 3a: Phase I procedures for COOP plan activation
Step 3b: Phase I procedures for alert and notification
Step 3c: Phase I procedures for transition to an alternate facility
Step 3d: Phase II procedures for alternate facility operations
Step 3e: Phase III procedures for reconstitution
Step 3f: Modified procedures for a pandemic

Step 4: Complete the plan template

Step 5: Maintain and practice plan

Section III: COOP Plan Worksheets

The following Worksheets are provided to help courts gather information critical to preparing their COOP plan. The Worksheets are linked to various steps discussed under Section II COOP Planning Steps. Worksheets are available for editing by clicking the Microsoft Word icon above.

Worksheet A: Determine Essential Functions

Worksheet B: Priority of Essential Functions

Worksheet C: Essential Functions Staff

Worksheet D: COOP Staff Roster

Worksheet E: Orders of Succession and Delegation of Authorities

Worksheet F: Contact Information for Key Decision-makers and Successors

Worksheet G: Alternate Work Site Requirements

Worksheet H: Alternate Work Site Options

Worksheet I: Alternate Work Sites by Disaster Scenarios

Worksheet J: Potential Strategies to Limit Personal Contact

Worksheet K: Strategies to Limit Personal Contact for Each Essential Function

Worksheet L: Communications Plan

Worksheet M: Media Contacts

Worksheet N: Interoperability of Communications Systems

Worksheet O: Inventory of Vital Records

Worksheet P: Restoration Resources

Worksheet Q: Staff Directory

Worksheet R: Emergency Contacts for Staff

Worksheet S: Emergency Services Available

Worksheet T: Personnel Policies

Worksheet U: Drive-Away Kits

Worksheet V: Devolution Plan

Worksheet W: COOP Plan Testing Program

Worksheet X: COOP Plan Training Program

Worksheet Y: COOP Plan Exercise Program

Section IV: COOP Plan Template

This template offers courts a guide for preparing their own continuity of operations (COOP) plan. Each section describes the information that should be included and, in some cases, offers language that can be adapted to fit individual courts. Suggested language is italicized; information to be added by the court is bracketed.

Many of the sections require courts to work through several steps and make decisions before the section can be completed. These sections are linked to information and worksheets provided in Continuity of Court Operations: Steps for COOP Planning to help courts in this process.

Section V: Special Topics