The Boston Federal Executive Board was hosting its monthly business meeting on Sept. 11, 2001. Our conference room overlooks Logan International Airport, the launching pad for two of the planes involved in the attacks. The days and weeks that followed taught us a lot about information-sharing, misinformation-sharing, workforce planning and workplace safety. All our traditional concepts were tossed out the window.
We continue to learn from that experience and build on best practices. The good news is that, as an employer, the government is better at coordinating and collaborating around continuity and workforce planning. While some has been driven by technology advances, much is a result of our first-hand experiences. For example, not only are we much better at communicating regularly with our employees, at all levels and locations and across agencies, we’ve developed a more proactive approach.
We’ve begun to look at the nature of what might be considered an emergency differently. For example, Boston hosted the first political convention post-9/11 and our approach was different from the one four years prior. National Special Security Events were created and shifted the definition of these types of things as threat.
I am proud that, on the whole, agencies better plan, communicate and promote utilization of human resources flexibilities and that FEBs have become a stronger platform for coordination, collaboration and communication. We’ve raised awareness of telework as a business imperative, promoted continuity planning. and tested and facilitated relationship-building across agencies.
While we always seem to be planning for “the big one,” preparedness and planning for smaller local emergencies is equally important. If you have not been in contact with your FEB, you should and join the dialogue.
Ainsworth is executive director, Boston Federal Executive Board.