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Continuity of Operations law protects sensitive data for the State

confidential-accompanying-photoA proper and functional Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) contains sensitive data that may expose the vulnerabilities, sensitivities, strategies, personnel, and resources needed to continue the essential functions that protect life, property, vital information, and continuity of government operations. The disclosure of information in these plans could endanger lives; compromise the security of essential equipment, services, and systems of the Texas state agencies; expose agencies and state government to attack or disruption; or otherwise impact the ability of government to perform its critical functions.

On June 19, 2015, Governor Abbott signed House Bill 1832, which provides that information contained in a continuity of operations plan developed under the requirements of Section 412.054, Texas Labor Code, is confidential and excepted from public disclosure. This includes all records written, produced, collected, assembled, or maintained as part of the development or review of such plans. All of the forms, standards and instructional and planning materials used by the Office to guide or assist state agencies in development of these plans remain public information, and the Office will continue to provide these materials free of charge on its website.

“It is hard to overstate the significance of this legislation,” said Stephen Vollbrecht, State Risk Manager. “Many have struggled with finding the balance in maintaining security and transparency. This legislation strikes that balance, ensuring that the public can be assured that its government is taking the proper steps for continuity of operations while simultaneously protecting against the potential abuse and misuse of sensitive information.”

House Bill 1832 also implements in statute the single statewide planning format and submission requirements identified in the Texas State Agency Continuity Planning Policy Guidance letter issued in October of 2013 by the Directors of the Texas Department of Public Safety/Texas Office of Homeland Security, Texas Department of Information Resources, and the State Office of Risk Management. All former references to business continuity planning (BCP) are superseded by continuity of operations planning (COOP).

You can find full text of the legislation here.

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