Today, the GAO reports on how seven “critical” financial firms are prepared to deal with swine flu.
Overall, it finds that these firms do have plans in place for a pandemic, but it’s not all good news. And the report doesn’t identify the seven it’s talking about, including those whose preparation is poor.
GAO: Although each organisation has developed plans for continuing operations during a pandemic, our analysis indicated that three of the seven have not fully analysed or documented the number of staff able to perform critical functions who would be available during a pandemic.
We may be able to help narrow the list.
UBS seems to lead Wall Street in preparedeness. Here’s what they told us has happened:
- Sending Influenza A/H1N1 status updates and resources to go to for more information
- Distribution of flu kits
- Providing flu and A/H1N1 flue vaccinations to staff members
- Installation of hand sanitizers
- Flexible work arrangement if dependents get flu or schools are closed
JPMorgan also lets us know they’ve got their act together:
- Offering free flu shots to employees
- Have put hand sanitizer locations “all around the bank”
- Signs up in the bathroom reminding people of the need to be “extra careful during flu season”
- Comminicated to employees over email a “reminder of the need to be extra cautious during this time” and letting them know about the free flu shots
Credit Suisse wouldn’t comment on specific measures, but a spokesperson said “the health and safety of our employees is of paramount importance.” Not very informative.
Besides CS, banks that didn’t respond to our repeated requests were Citi, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Could they be one the list of three?
Here’s more from the GAO:
Unfortunately, organisations could also permanently lose critical staff if the pandemic causes significant levels of deaths. Therefore, a responsive pandemic plan should include procedures for ensuring that an organisation can continue performing its critical functions even with as much as a 40 per cent reduction in its workforce for a prolonged period—the level that the federal government has advised should be used for planning for a severe pandemic.
In general, the seven critical organisations that we reviewed all intend to use existing geographically dispersed facilities to increase the distance among staff who perform critical functions. Staff from all seven critical organisations are spread among facilities located across the United States, including data centres, which are monitored by computer operators, and office or business centres with key staff that assist customers. Each of these organisations has created duplicate sites with redundant staffed data centres and locations or space for other critical staff. For example, officials from one organisation told us that their three facilities are considerably distant from each other (i.e., hundreds of miles) in order to mitigate the effect of natural disasters, power and telecom outages, and other wide-scale regional disruptions, including a pandemic.
The organisations plan to use these geographically dispersed sites to maximise social distancing and increase their ability to continue operating during a pandemic. Having sites with staff that perform critical functions in more than one location also provides these organisations with pools of cross-
trained employees that they can draw on during a pandemic. For example, one organisation’s pandemic plan relies on staff performing critical activities that are evenly divided across two geographically distant facilities in different regions of the country. This organisation also has an
alternate facility in the same metropolitan area as its primary location. Under its plan, during the final stage of a pandemic, when the United States is experiencing sustained transmission of the disease, some staff from its primary site are to report to the nearby alternate facility to do their critical activities, thus allowing the organisation to increase the physical distance between the individual members of its critical staff.
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