The Parliamentarian 2018: Issue Four

Page 82

BUSINESS CONTINUITY FOR COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTS

BUSINESS CONTINUITY FOR COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTS: ESTABLISHING THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLIES BUSINESS CONTINUITY NETWORK (LABCoN)

A group of Commonwealth Legislatures have been working together over the last few years to create guidance that will help similar organisations in considering the necessary business continuity planning they need to undertake to maintain operations. This article will outline how that work has progressed and how readers of The Parliamentarian can get hold of the guide. In May 2014, the Clerk of the Scottish Parliament, Sir Paul Grice, met with counterparts in Ottawa, Canada where the topic of business continuity cropped up. During the discussion it was clear that there would be mutual benefit in the House of Commons in Ottawa and the Scottish Parliament sharing information on strategy, plans, resources and issues on how both organisations approached business continuity. Over the following months there were conference calls, regular email correspondence and the bilateral sharing of information between Ottawa and Edinburgh soon expanded to include representatives from the Canadian Senate, the UK Houses of Parliament in London, the Legislative Assemblies in Toronto and Victoria, Canada and, more recently, the House of Representatives in Wellington, New Zealand. Early in the sharing of information it was clear there were areas of overlap and

areas of strength from some legislatures that other participants could benefit from, so much so that representatives from most of the organisations agreed to meet in Toronto in June 2015. We also decided to give our group a name – Legislative Assemblies Business Continuity Network or LABCoN. This first set of meetings focussed on direct comparison of our approaches to business continuity and sharing the good stories – and the lessons we’ve learned from work that could have gone better – around what we do. To help with this the group created a questionnaire that was based on the international standard for business continuity, ISO 22301. The meetings in Toronto were very positive and the group, as well as sharing expertise and enthusiasm for business continuity, also hit it off personally too. The amount of learning gained over those two days drove home to the group that there will undoubtedly be other legislatures that could benefit if the knowledge and experience of the participants could be captured and shared in some fashion. Over the following months, it was agreed that creating a business continuity guide specifically created for legislatures was the way forward. It was recognised that this should be based on sound business

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continuity planning processes and that real value could be gained from exploring legislature-specific aspects of what has worked well and where things haven’t quite turned out as planned in our various business continuity programmes. Our technical guide was created by Martin Fenlon, previously of the UK Houses of Parliament and, by the summer of 2016, now working at the Emergency Planning College. This was reviewed and other areas to include in our guide were discussed by the group at a 3-day meeting in Edinburgh during August 2016. These days also included training on incident communications and incident management as well as exploring the welfare aspects of how to look after people - Members, staff and visitors – at the Parliament after a disruptive event. As well as the technical element of guide one of the main outputs from the Edinburgh meetings were that we should all concentrate on capturing ‘case study’ information to help show the resources, approaches, challenges and benefits that business continuity thinking and planning could bring to a legislature. These ‘case study’ materials were reviewed by the group when meeting in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in August 2017 where the group also had the opportunity to explore the

planning and resources that the Legislative Assembly use in their earthquake planning; we also got to discuss the impact of the 2001 Nisqually earthquake with colleagues from the State Legislature in Olympia, Washington State who had to carry out extensive repair work to their capitol building and decant their Chambers during that time. The most recent LABCoN conference, which took place in Ottawa, Canada in July 2018, focussed on the finishing touches to the guide, which as well as a technical business continuity chapter, also includes chapters on: • Governance & Resources • Planning Approach • Assessing Business Continuity plans The content of the guide is now complete and we are applying the finishing touches to give it a bit of style, translate it into French and creating a hub website for the work we have been doing. The website will also have information to allow those interested in LABCoN to contact the authors and ask questions on what has been set out. We are aiming to ‘publish’ this guide in early 2019 and LABCoN members will be using contacts established by their own organisations to advertise the availability of the guide. All participants in LABCoN have benefitted from the discussions, the sharing of information and the opportunity


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