NNSA develops and implements the policy of the United States to maintain a comprehensive and effective continuity capability composed of an integrated, overlapping national continuity concept in order to ensure the preservation of the U.S. government and the continuing performance of federal agencies' essential functions.
All federal agencies, regardless of location, would have in
place a viable continuity program capability to ensure continued performance of
essential functions under all conditions. Continuity planning will occur
simultaneously with the development and execution of federal agency programs.
Continuity planning is simply the good business practice of ensuring the
execution of essential functions through all circumstances, and it is a
fundamental responsibility of public and private entities responsible to their
In support of this new environment, the government has developed and implemented the National Security Presidential Directive 51/Homeland Security Presidential Directive-20 . This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of federal government structures and operations. This policy establishes the national essential functions, which outline the continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations. These functions will ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid response to and recovery from a national emergency.
A continuity program ensures NNSA and the Department of Energy  (DOE) can continue to perform and support the national essential functions and ensure readiness by addressing the basics of continuity planning. These basics consist of the following elements:
- Orders of Succession and Delegations of Authority;
- Departmental Mission Essential Functions;
- Vital records and databases;
- Alternate operating facilities and resources;
- Interoperable communications capabilities;
- Reconstitution of DOE capabilities and restoration of full operations;
- Human capital;
- Pandemic or epidemic event preparedness; and
- Training, testing and exercise programs.
In the past, Continuity of Operations, Continuity of Government, and Enduring Constitutional Government plans and programs were separate, compartmented activities. However, the lessons learned from catastrophic events as the attacks of September 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, demonstrate the need to reemphasize continuity as a "good business practice" be incorporated into today-to-day planning in order to reduce vulnerability and ensure continuity.
Today's asymmetric-threat environment and the potential for emergencies including localized acts of nature, accidents, technological emergencies, and military or terrorist attach related incidents, have increased the need for robust continuity capabilities and planning that enable agencies to continue their essential functions across a broad spectrum of emergencies. This, coupled with the potential for terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction, has emphasized the importance of continuity of operations programs that ensure continuity of essential government functions.