VA's Departmental organization focusing on crisis and preparedness issues is the Office of Operations and Readiness under the Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security, and Preparedness. That Office has two major components: Operations - assuring the capability of continued delivery of healthcare, benefits, and memorial services to our Nation's Veterans, no matter what the crisis, as well as support of the VA's tasking as a Federal Partner for support in the National Response Plan, and Readiness - planning, exercising and evaluating VA's COOP team. It is this combined effort that provides the support for the Secretary of the Department to ensure immediate adequate response in times of a crisis or national event.
The VA has made great effort to establish and enhance its Readiness Operations Centers (ROCs) at various locations. All of the Operations sites function with a small team and minimal resources. Three of the ROCs are permanently yet minimally staffed. With the exception of small areas dedicated to site A, limited space at site B, and one office at site C, all ROC continuity of operations (COOP) support functions and spaces are dedicated and predominantly used by VA field staff and Veterans. Only in the event of a crisis is the space temporarily turned over to support the COOP function.
VA's internal Video teleconferencing capability is routinely used as an effective management and cost saving method of conducting meetings and crisis support. The video and audio allow continual interaction and communications while managing a crisis, such as Hurricane Isabel. Sites A, B, C, and E are normally tied in together for various meetings and interactions. In addition, all four sites now have an integrated web-based information management capability connection, providing real-time shared information and data.
The Operation Center's mission is to ensure the safety and security of veterans, employees, and visitors at VA facilities and to enable continuity of services while integrating, improving and increasing VA's operational readiness and ability to execute law enforcement, emergency responses, Department of Defense contingency support, and Homeland Security support.
The Operation Center will:
Ensure enforcement of the law and protection of veterans, employees, visitors, and property at VA facilities.
Ensure the security of VA's physical infrastructure and classified information.
Ensure the readiness and preparedness activities enhance VA's ability to continue on going services to veterans and their families.
Coordinate and execute emergency preparedness and crisis response activities, both VA wide and as One VA with other Federal, state, local and relief agencies.
Develop and maintain an effective working relationship with the US Office of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and other Federal Agencies involved in National Security and emergency response issues.