FCW’s brush with COOP

We write about the importance of business continuity all the time, but when the power went out at Federal Computer Week’s office in Falls Church, Va., last week, did we have a backup plan? Not exactly.

We send pages to the magazine printing company throughout the week, with feature stories and the Comment, Management, Technology and Business sections closing early in the week. The News and Policy sections close later in the week so that we can bring you breaking news. The result is that we have deadlines every day.

The electricity went out early Tuesday morning when utility workers cut a power line. They told us the power would be restored by 2 p.m.

Luckily, FCW’s Web and e-mail servers are off-site, so they were not affected. But office telephones were dead. Reporters have laptop PCs so they are able to do their work just about anywhere. But most of the servers we use to get printed words onto magazine pages are located in FCW’s offices.

We called everyone who hadn’t arrived at the office yet and asked editors to use their home computers to access e-mail and our Web content management system so we could continue to post stories throughout the day. We agreed to come to the office at 2 p.m. to catch up on the magazine pages. The power was indeed back on by 2 p.m., but about an hour later, it went off again, and that time the utility company had no idea when the problem might be fixed.

A continuity-of-operations expert recently told an FCW staffer that most COOP plans fail to account for power outages. We plan for snowstorms, but organizations overlook everyday occurrences.

The next test for FCW will be putting that experience to good use.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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