ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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ANSI-HSSP Workshop Explores Private Sector Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity

New York, Jan 29, 2004

Nearly 50 safety, security and crisis management experts representing more than 25 diverse industry, government and organizational bodies gathered in New York City yesterday for a workshop on Private Sector Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity. The event was organized by the ANSI Homeland Security Standards Panel (ANSI-HSSP), supporting the efforts of the 9-11 Commission, an independent group investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks, and the Working Group on Private Sector Preparedness (PSP-WG).

The need for a workshop in this area was underscored by recent remarks made by 9-11 Commission Chairman, former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, in which he noted that, although industry owns 85% of America’s critical infrastructure, currently there are no generally accepted standards for companies to aim at, or against which they can be judged. Kean continued that even if such standards did exist, there would still be a need to develop incentives for the private sector to improve its preparedness.

"Today’s workshop brings together parties for a dialogue and discussion of the need for a high-level national standard to help companies and organizations prepare for a disaster, terrorist attack, or other security breach, as well as to maintain or return to some level of normal operations following the event” explained Fran Schrotter, ANSI senior vice-president and workshop moderator.

“ANSI is respected in its standards activities and we are looking forward to hearing the results of this new section of [its] Homeland Security Standards Panel,” said Emily Walker, a representative of the 9-11 Commission. “We are looking to this group to assist in bringing these issues forward constructively and with broad representation from interested parties which we believe ANSI can bring to the table.”

Walker’s remarks were echoed by PSP-WG chair, Bill Raisch: “Many firms do not see themselves at risk and many do not see any motivating benefits for preparedness. . . . Our goal [today] is to gain feedback on concerns and needs leading to the development of a long-range strategy [in this area].”

Working against a tight timeframe – a target date of April 5, 2004, has been set to deliver recommendations from ANSI and the PSP-WG to the 9-11 Commission – participants spent their initial day of discussions working to identify existing standards and guidelines in these areas, as well as discussing initial recommendations with respect to a high-level national standard.

Following a discussion during which several source documents were identified, participants indicated their support for using NFPA 1600, Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity, as a starting point from which to move forward.

“There was an understanding within the group that further evolution would be necessary,” explained Schrotter, “and many suggestions were offered during the workshop’s initial discussions. We were encouraged by the broad cross-section of industries that expressed their interest in being engaged in the process to examine and consider modifications to the standard.”

The next ANSI-HSSP workshop on this topic will be convened in late February in Washington, DC. Final recommendations will be submitted by ANSI for consideration and incorporation into the Commission’s final report to Congress.