This playbook is provided for governments and public agencies in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Its content considers both people working in an office environment as well as those who are in public spaces that directly serve local residents.
Government and public service agencies have played a critical role in guiding the public through the COVID-19 crisis as providers of information, guidance and material resources. In the recovery phase, residents will continue to rely upon public agencies and officials, not only to continue supplying real-time guidance on the pandemic, but also to provide everyday public goods and services to the extent possible. Like many organizations, government entities will need to do this through greater reliance on technology in a weak economy that may lead to smaller public budgets. Local government leaders are encouraged to work with their legal and human resources staff to develop plans that take the needs of employees and the public into account while reducing potential liability and complying with all regulatory requirements.
Sample: DOT Risk Profile
This sample risk profile has been determined for the DOT in DSM. The profile shows frequency, or how many people in a day; duration, or length of typical interaction; and variety, or the number of different people.*
Residents will expect to access government products and services, and fulfill compliance requirements, through more cohesive digital journeys. At the same time, back-office operations can be accelerated through automated intelligent workflows. Public agencies will increase their technology architecture to meet public needs and more services may be offered online or remotely permanently.
Security & Compliance
The post-COVID-19 environment will continue to see increasing interconnectivity, digital platforms and expectations for 24/7 access. Government entities will need to embed robust security and compliance measures across their operations to safeguard residents’ data, drive efficiency in cost control and enhance delivery effectiveness.
Remote Work Changes
Depending on the department, public agencies may maintain a partially digital and remote workforce allowing them to repurpose physical space for new, value-added activities.
Web and phone traffic may continue to surge, creating operational constraints or disruptions. Look for ways to avert technology glitches in high-volume activities and invest now to avoid future service disruptions.
Health & Sanitation
- Conduct a health screening with all employees before their shifts in accordance with the most up to date recommendations from the local public health department.
- Encourage employees who feel sick to stay home. Employees who may have been exposed to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should take precautions, including self-quarantine, in accordance with CDC guidance.
- Appropriate PPE should be worn when working in close proximity to others, especially when in the field or in someone's home, in accordance with current public health guidelines.
- Employees handling cash or documents received from the public should wear gloves.
- Train all employees on cleaning processes, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
- Provide accommodations, such as specific hours, for vulnerable populations to come to government offices for any services that cannot be done virtually.
- Designate employees to sanitize vehicles, equipment and tools, with EPA-approved cleaning chemicals when appropriate, before every change in operator or user and anytime materials are delivered by an outside third-party.
- When cleaning tools and equipment, workers should consult manufacturer recommendations for proper techniques and restrictions.
Process & Space Modifications
- Encourage virtual meetings and working from home if possible.
- Implement measures to enable social distancing of six feet.
- Restrict lobby and counter access for appointment-only if possible and allow for time to sanitize between appointments.
- If an appointment system is not feasible, limit the number of individuals inside public areas to accommodate social distancing requirements.
- Install plexiglass barriers between staff and the public.
- Consider staggering shifts and breaks to reduce staff interactions.
- Limit congregation in office spaces and non-essential worker interaction across floors, buildings, campuses, worksites, etc.
- Frequently disinfect desks, workstations and high-contact surfaces like door knobs, light switches, touchpads and terminals, etc.
- Discourage workers from using other workers’ offices, phones or equipment.
- Regularly clean all common areas and any shared electronic equipment.
- Post signage at the entrance stating that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 will be permitted entry.
- Update employees on steps they can take to protect their own health while at work.
- Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns immediately.
- Post updates regularly to employees and residents via websites, newsletters and social media as changes occur.
- Remind the public to stay at least six feet away from others and mark out such spaces when possible.
- Post updates regularly to employees and residents via websites, newsletters and social media as changes occur to the management and use of public spaces.
Emergency and Disaster Operations
In light of severe weather season, state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) authorities should review and adjust their disaster preparedness, response and recovery plans to include COVID-19 precautions and procedures. Key considerations are outlined below.
- Review and modify your emergency operations plan to align with COVID-19 guidance, to include social distancing limitations, travel restrictions, fiscal impacts, reduction of government services and potential impacts to your supply chain. Update plans with community partners.
- Review and modify your plans to include special considerations for those with access and functional needs in a COVID-19 environment.
- Review and update your Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP).
- Update your resource management inventory to make response personnel available to support non-COVID-19 response.
- Identify essential personnel and potential shortfalls and limitations.
- Identify orders of succession for key personnel and leadership. Consider if critical tasks and decision-making have approved delegations of authority.
- Identify alternate sites and capabilities to ensure COOP to include telework.
- Review and evaluate current mutual aid agreements and Emergency Management Assistance Compacts (EMAC) to see if available resources and/or personnel may be limited due to COVID-19 operations and if agreements should be expanded to include new partners.
- Consider whether COVID-19 response and recovery efforts have identified new partners, resources, planning shortfalls or solutions to include in emergency operations plans and annexes, including private sector partners in grocery, fuel, home mitigation supplies and medical supplies.
- Consider resourcing secondary emergency management roles and responsibilities to support parallel disasters with extended timelines and limited resources.
- Assess your increased personnel requirements and plan for contingency staffing.
- Determine if you can use alternate communications, information technology support and remote operations to operate your Emergency Operations Center (EOC) virtually.
- Explore virtual environment delivery platforms to exercise plans and overcome the challenges of limited face-to-face training, seminars and workshops.
- Consider strategies to keep a disaster from overwhelming 9-1-1 centers.
- Develop and disseminate accessible, multilingual and culturally appropriate messaging to inform the public of changes in expected services or procedures (e.g., changes to shelter locations, evacuation routes, available transportation methods) due to impacts from COVID-19 and ensure the messaging is accessible and available in alternative formats for persons with disabilities.
- Update pre-scripted messages to incorporate the current recommended PPE posture for disaster survivors and provide deconflicting guidance regarding any stay-at-home orders or other guidance.
- Develop accessible, multilingual and culturally appropriate messaging on increased personal preparedness measures and encourage your community to evaluate personal emergency plans and familiarize themselves with guidance from their local jurisdictions related to COVID-19.
- Advise individuals and households to track their critical financial, medical and household information by using FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) as a guide (see below under Resources and References).
- Engage with public health officials to identify guidelines for workforce response in a COVID-19 environment.
- Identify the essential workforce necessary for continuing critical infrastructure viability by using the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) advisory list as a guide.
- Engage nonprofits and small businesses to discuss how you would respond and recover from a natural hazard event in a COVID-19 environment.
- Evaluate if you have purchased and stockpiled appropriate PPE and necessary commodities during response operations, especially if available resources have been allocated to COVID-19 response.
- Consider updating your vendor contracts and agreements to procure and deliver supplies and equipment in case of a shortage.
- Modify your evacuation plan to account for limited travel options and hotel availability, increased need for health and medical evacuations, financial limitations of the general public and additional impacts from COVID-19.
- Consider the extra time it may take to evacuate given the need for social distancing that mass transit modes (e.g., buses) may require.
- Consider if your continuity plans adequately address how to respond if your agency/department or your partner agency has reduced staffing or other capabilities, such as facilities and commodities, due to COVID-19.
- Evaluate plans to integrate FEMA personnel and/or other federal partners into your response operations.
- Designate a point of contact and information exchange platform to continue coordination with critical infrastructure and private sector partners.
- Ensure you have a system to collect and share data to support decision-making and facilitate development of a common operating picture for multiple response operations.
- Consider expanded use of aerial imagery and other remote sensing capabilities to gain and maintain situational awareness and conduct damage assessments.
- Consider if special operations teams (e.g., Urban Search and Rescue, HazMat) are still mission capable and have adopted CDC guidelines for PPE and training.
- Consider if your EOC have enough information technology personnel to support increased numbers of remote emergency responders and if they trained to work remotely and support remote work for extended periods on multiple disasters.
- Determine if you have established a Business Emergency Operations Center that can coordinate and collaborate with the private sector and the National Business Emergency Operations Center.
- Coordinate with public health officials in your jurisdiction regarding evacuation and shelter safety, infection control and planning.
- Develop accessible, multilingual and culturally appropriated pre-scripted messages for communicated evacuation and shelter-in-place updates.
- Shelter operations should take into consideration social distancing, health screening, cleaning and sanitizing, high-risk populations and other operational protocols outlined in the CDC’s Interim Guidance for General Population Disaster Shelters During the COVID-19 Pandemic, which can be found in the Resources and References section below.
- Evaluate if you have a mechanism to increase public transportation, including accessible buses, vans, etc., if economic impacts preclude citizens from self-evacuating, to include paratransit for persons with disabilities.
- Evaluate how to manage re-occupancy procedures given the constraints and impacts of COVID-19.
- Evaluate how to deliver essential government functions given the constraints and impacts of COVID-19.
- Consider if energy sector partners have adequate staffing to generate, transmit and distribute power and fuel to the community if staffing is reduced.
- Consider if emergency repairs for energy infrastructure account for COVID-19 social distancing or PPE needs.
- Consider if your jurisdiction has plans for priority power restoration for individuals with disabilities and health conditions that require power for life sustainment.
- Ensure responders have access to dedicated mobile or internet bandwidth.
- Engage with critical infrastructure and private sector partners to confirm their hazardous materials storage facilities are secure and their response plans are updated to reflect the current COVID-19 environment.
- Consider if you have the materials and resources needed for a hazardous or toxic materials incident.
- Test your primary, alternate, contingency and emergency communications capabilities and ability to send public announcements.
- Consider converting town hall meetings and press conferences to accessible and multilingual virtual platforms.
- Ensure 9-1-1 dispatch and public safety answering points are available and accessible to citizens in need, including people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and/or without speech or persons with limited English proficiency. Provide information on accessing 3-1-1, 2-1-1, mental/behavioral health hotlines, animal control and other 24-hour community service help lines to control the flow of incoming calls.
- Determine the lead agencies and individuals managing and coordinating disaster recovery efforts. Identify who has authority to make formal decisions related to disaster recovery.
- Determine how COVID-19 response actions and leadership intersect with disaster recovery actions and leadership and identify a mechanism to ensure both efforts are coordinated.
- Determine how agencies and organization will coordinate recovery efforts.
- Determine who is responsible for releasing information to the public within the jurisdiction.
- Determine if you have a process to synchronize messages between SLTT entities.
- Identify how to maximize community input and buy-in for recovery efforts. Ensure mechanisms are in place to reach isolated or underserved communities and individuals with access and functional needs.
- Determine if you have required software licenses to conduct large-scale public engagements remotely and have trained personnel to operate these systems.
- Evaluate if you have adequate staffing plans to assure continuity in staffing the management and implementation of disaster recovery efforts in a COVID-19 environment.
- Determine critical vs. noncritical recovery functions.
- Consider how you will manage building and housing inspections and re-occupancy procedures, given the constraints and impacts of COVID-19.
- Identify if you have any pre-positioned contracts for disaster housing-related services and confirm that these contracts are still valid in the COVID-19 environment.
- Consider what health and safety protocols can impact the return to, and occupancy of, homes and buildings and the relevant agencies involved in making those decisions.
- Establish virtual communications and information sharing platforms for Public Assistance Applicant Briefings and Requests.
- Evaluate how you will provide the homeless population with services in accordance with CDC guidance, while ensuring the health and safety of emergency responders and recovery personnel.
- Evaluate how you will provide individuals with access and functional needs with services in accordance with ADA and CDC guidance.
- Evaluate if you can manage recovery functions as stipulated in your recovery plan following the constraints and impacts of COVID-19.
- Evaluate your jurisdictions existing financial management practices for disaster and recovery and determine if adjustments are needed to comply with procurement requirements in a COVID-19 environment.
- Access how you will access critical recovery funding.
- Develop a process to determine eligibility for all relevant funding opportunities.
Recognizing the importance of accurate information, the Polk County Health Department, the Iowa Department of Public Health and 211 have partnered with RACI and Lutheran Services in Iowa to launch a hotline to help DSM residents who have limited English skills. Learn more about these multilingual services.
In the spirit of the #DSMlocalchallenge, DART has been partnering with several local businesses to keep employees safe through providing face masks and hand sanitizer. Read more about their keeping #DSMstrong.
The Partnership, Polk County and the City of Des Moines have teamed up with Carlisle, Clive, Indianola, Johnston, Norwalk, Urbandale, West Des Moines, Warren County and Windsor Heights to create a Small Business Recovery Grants program to help keep small DSM businesses in business.
The business function playbooks include takeaways that are specific to professional functions that could be present in any business, regardless of industry.
*We note that these assessments are qualitative and based on expert-led judgment (Johns Hopkins, 2020). Currently, there are not enough detailed data available to enable quantitative risk stratification. Businesses will need to make decisions about re-initiating business activities before there are validated data to know the precise levels of risk.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership's DSM Forward playbook is not intended to constitute legal advice or provide specific direction
. The preparation of a business continuity or preparations plan should be undertaken with the advice and direction of appropriate specialists and personnel, in consideration of the unique circumstances impacting each business. Third-party websites or material linked to or referenced in DSM Forward are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of The Partnership of that material or its authors.
Last updated: 5/11/2020