Continuity of Government is a phrase that is used when government agencies/organizations of the United States of America
talk about the continuance of government functions in the face of a large disaster. The term first was used during the John F. Kennedy
administration in the early 1960s, though the Harry S. Truman
administration first directed federal agencies to have a plan of action in order to continue their vital services during a time of emergency. Throughout the Cold War
between the United States and the Soviet Union
, Continuity of Government was a phrase that imagined a doomsday scenario of nuclear war
. Though a number of people have questioned the wisdom (and point) of creating a Federal plan for a post nuclear war situation.
In 1946, Congress passed legislation extending the Line of Presidential Succession down from the Vice President, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, then to the President pro tem of the Senate, and then through the nine cabinet members of the time. Cabinet positions added afterwards are not in the Presidential line of succession. Furthermore, each Federal agency created their own line of succession.
Times of extreme crisis mandate the evacuation of key personel to Crisis Relocation Facilities, in order to preserve as much of the consitutional leadership as possible. These facilities have been largely located relatively near to Washington, DC, to facilitate the process of evacuation of Washington. Some of these sites include:
National Military Command Center
Raven Rock Site R/Alternate Joint Communications Center
Mount Weather Emergency Assistance Center
A number of the facilities that are well known to the public have been retired from Continuity of Government duties, and have been given over to various Federal agencies for alternate usage. Several of the known facilities remain active, such as the Nationa Military Command Center, Raven Rock Site-R, and the Mount Weather facility. It is believed numerous other undisclosed Continuity of Government facilities exist.
Many of the Continuity of Government facilities are radiation hardened bunkers, capable of housing people for a period of time following a nuclear attack. Thoes facilities have largely abandoned their post nuclear war roles, and now concentrate on simply being government strongholds for non nuclear war emergency situations. The Emergency Broadcast System, for instance, is housed in a former nuclear bunker.
The early twenty-first century is a time of transition for Continuity of Government policy and facilities. During the 1990s, CoG facilities were thought to be far less important after the end of the Cold War, and have since changed their primary function to something else. Though the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 prompted the actual implementation of Continuity of Government policy that had been gathering dust since the fall of the Soviet Union. Both President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were both whisked away to Continuity of Government facilities in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Cheney remained 'in a cave' (supposedly at Raven Rock Site-R) for several months after the attacks. When President Bush addressed the nation after the attacks, and gave his first State of the Union Address, members of his cabinet (parts of the line of presidential succession) remained outside of Washington, in secure facilities, to prevent a loss of the complete line of succession in the case of a nuclear attack.
In 2002, these CoG facilities and policies are being brought back to public and government attention, due to increased fears of terrorist nuclear attacks against Washington, DC., and other U.S cities.