--> Gill Blog: Business Continuity Testing During the RNC

Gill Blog

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Business Continuity Testing During the RNC

As the summer winds down in an election year in the U.S. and we inch closer to November, the political debate intensifies as stategists on both sides resort to the time-honored tradition (at least during the media age) of intense mudslinging (I'm just loving this Swift Boat battle with the Texas Airmen -- it's pure WWE!). Anyway, it's also when Democratic momentum gained during their convention yields to an inevitable surge by the G.O.P. gained during their big love-in. This year's Republican National Convention (RNC) will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York between August 30 and September 2.

For political junkies (especially those in the U.S.), the convention is the political equivalent of the Super Bowl. Actually, because it's only once every four years, I'd even venture to say it's their Olympics (oops! I think the IOC may not let me say that in my blog given their policy on blogs). What the heck, I'll take my chances.

But this event is also huge for another group -- business continuity planners. Business continuity planners? You see given the fact the disruption and high security will likely cause disruptions around Wall Street, continuity planners within the financial services industry (FSI) have decided this will be a perfect time to test their business continuity plans. We're not talking checklists and compliance meetings, we're talking about full-blown testing exercises:
The panelists expressed hope that the RNC and other planned events will allow their companies to prepare for unexpected events, such as terror attacks, by testing their business continuity plans and ensuring that all applications have been installed correctly, physical security is adequately prepared and all employees know what to do in the event of an emergency.
It's encouraging to see the effort taken to test plans during the convention, and the degree to which firms are taking a more complete view of business continuity, which places emphasis not only on BCP, but facilities and teleworking as well:
Certain firms have opened additional locations outside of New York City in the event that the operations in the New York branches are destroyed, and have tested technology that would allow them to get their business centers back up and running quickly after an attack, if not at another location during the attack. A member of the audience started a debate about remote-access scenarios, or people working from home. The panelists agreed that this would be quite beneficial, but required having the exact technology available to employees at the office also available to them at home to keep the productivity level equal.
In the midst of all the convention hoopla, there are some who are speculating that the days of such huge extravaganzas may be numbered. The reason? The high cost of obtaining terrorist insurance for these types of events. In fact, the main reason cited in this article is the fact the insurance industry and the Federal Government have yet to come up with an alternative to the Terrorist Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) of 2002.

Now, we have discussed TRIA several times in this blog, but it seems that problems continue to linger. The main one, of course, is that TRIA is set to expire at the end of next year, and if a reasonable alternative is not found, insurers will not underwrite terrorism insurance:
The insurance industry is pushing for extending that act past its 2005 expiration to the end of 2007. Without federal backing, the industry says no insurer will provide terrorist coverage for anyone.

U.S. Reps. Michael Capuano and Barney Frank are pushing for the two-year extension, a move being resisted by a cautious Bush administration that wants to review the issue more.

Frank said the commercial real estate industry is pushing hardest for the extension, tokeep Uncle Sam in the business of reinsuring insurers in the event of a terrorist attack.
As the clock ticks down, it will be interesting to see how this issue will be resolved. For now I gotta run and find more election dirt -- I love this stuff!


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