Tampa, FL – November 4, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has submitted comments on the Voluntary Private Sector Accreditation and Certification Preparedness Program, known as PS-Prep, drafted by the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS/FEMA).
IBHS has prepared several versions of a Crosswalk which initially compared the components of IBHS’ disaster planning tool for small businesses, Open for Business®, with criteria proposed by DHS for selecting the standards for PS-Prep, as well as the three standards that were selected for adoption. The Crosswalk was recently updated to reflect DHS guidance and the final standards adopted by DHS on June 15, 2010, as well as several enhancements to Open for Business®.
“Our decade-long experience with Open for Business® suggests that small businesses avoid continuity planning and disaster preparedness for a variety of reasons – including the lack of time, money, expertise, and a long-term perspective on the need for preparedness,” said IBHS’ Debra Ballen, general counsel and senior vice president of public policy. “The PS-Prep program should incorporate all possible measures to provide positive incentives to small businesses to start the planning process and avoid putting up barriers that may delay or derail implementation.”
“Given the relative lack of business preparedness and continuity planning in the small business community, it is critical to raise awareness about the importance of this planning and to provide easy access to planning tools,” said Diana McClure, IBHS’ business resiliency program manager. “The reality is that most small businesses do not know what preparedness planning is, have not done any planning, are focused on their daily responsibilities, and need to be provided with some helpful guidance before they can take action.”
In this regard, IBHS suggests a comprehensive educational effort that is supported, but not regulated, by DHS guidance and resources. This effort should:
- Emphasize the importance of preparedness and access to tools that will help small and medium-sized businesses get started, and are consistent with PS-Prep
- Stress, in layman’s terms, that the foundation of any business preparedness and continuity plan, no matter how basic, should:
o start with identification of the hazards/risks to which the business is exposed;
o identify where the business is most vulnerable;
o determine the impacts of interruption on the business; and
o prioritize actions to take to improve the business’ ability to survive and thrive following a disruption.
- Encourage small businesses to exercise, update and improve their business disaster preparedness and continuity plans; and
- Recommend a variety of tools that could be used, taking into consideration their alignment with business preparedness and continuity planning best practices, but focusing on their utility rather than how they align with PS-Prep or with techniques used to measure and maintain the quality of manufactured products.
“We strongly support DHS’ plan to develop guidance to help small businesses identify organizations that can help increase their level of disaster preparedness and potentially become certified under PS-Prep,” Ballen said. “We are proud that the elements identified in the Federal Register Notice are all attributes of IBHS and our Open for Business® program, including expertise and experience, affordability, accessibility, and consistency with PS-Prep.”
About the IBHS
IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.
Joseph King (813) 675-1045
jking (at) ibhs (dot) org