Continuity of Operations Planning pays off
When I took office in 2013, one of the first things I did was ask staff to develop Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP). All four of our divisions have either written COOPs or a basic framework to get them through critical functions. We don't write plans and leave them on a shelf. We practice and update our plans at least yearly.
How does Auditor's Office function after an earthquake, during a power outage, or if we close our doors to the public in a pandemic?
As we developed our COOP, we asked these questions and practiced our response so we could be prepared to provide essential services in an emergency.
In the Elections Division, we can't pack up our work and wait for the lights to come on. We must conduct elections, and count ballots by a deadline.
During the 2016 Presidential Election we lost power at our Voting Center on election night. It took staff less than five minutes to implement our COOP and we kept serving voters. Fortunately, the power came back on in about 15 minutes.
During a power outage in 2018, our Financial Services team had to make sure 1,200 county employees got paid – and they did.
In the same outage, our Licensing & Recording staff continued issuing marriage applications, recording documents and processing auto tabs and the Elections team was registering voters. Right now, almost all staff are working from home with connectivity into their workstations.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we've made significant changes to how we work in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
- We are working closely with our customers, county partners and title companies to record land transactions remotely.
- We are processing vehicle and boat renewals online and by mail and mailing tabs to customers at no extra charge.
- We are processing voter registrations through an online portal and mail.
- Almost my entire financial services team, the people who ensure staff get paid, pay our bills and keep an eye on our county budget, are working remotely.
You can't plan for every disaster. But all situations have similarities. We've had a few challenges the last few weeks responding to the pandemic but we've overcome. With continuity planning being at the center of our thinking for years, we're working smarter now during this emergency because we were able to plan and practice in quieter times.
While our services may be virtual right now, we're still here to serve you.