General Services Administration Mail Communications Policy Office Mail Center Security Guide



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VI. Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP)

The Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP) is a set of procedures to protect life and property under defined emergency conditions. The Mail Center Manager should be actively involved in the Occupant Emergency Program and in development of the OEP.


An occupant emergency is an event that may require you to be evacuated from your occupied space or relocated to a safer area. The emergency may include a fire, explosion, discovery of an explosive device, severe weather, earthquakes, chemical or biological exposure or threat, hostage takeover, or physical threat to building occupants or visitors. In the event of an emergency, the mail center manager must protect the people who work there and ensure their exit from the situation to a safe place.
Chapter 101 of the Federal Property Management Regulations (FPMR), Subchapter D, Part 101-20, spells out details of an Occupant Emergency Program. The FPMR defines an OEP as …”a short-term emergency response program that established procedures for safeguarding lives and property during emergencies in particular facilities.”

Occupant Emergency Program

The Occupant Emergency Program establishes a process for safeguarding lives and property in and around the facility during emergencies. The first component of an Occupant Emergency Program is development of a plan, which is the OPE, to protect life and property under certain specified emergency conditions. The second component is the formation of an Occupant Emergency Organization.



Occupant Emergency Organization

The Occupant Emergency Organization is a group of employees from the agency who carry out the emergency program. It is comprised of a designated official and other employees designated to undertake certain responsibilities and perform the specific tasks outlined in their OEP.



Designated Official

The Designated Official establishes, develops, applies and maintains the plan. The Designated Official is the highest-ranking official in a Federal facility or may be another person agreed on by all tenant agencies. In the absence of a Designated Official, an alternate may be selected to carry out responsibilities.



Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP)

The critical elements of the OEP are:


Evacuation Plans
Be sure to specify where the mail center’s employees should gather immediately after an evacuation, so that the supervisor on duty can take a head count. In some circumstances employees may be instructed to Shelter-in-Place. Depending on the circumstances and nature of the emergency, the first important decision is whether to stay put or get away. It is critical to understand and plan for either option. In some circumstances, staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as shelter-in-place, is a matter of survival. Make sure employees know how to listen for instructions on where to go and when to evacuate. They must know the exact route that authorities specify. It is important to follow instructions and do not take any shortcuts as lives are dependent on following instructions. For more information on sheltering-in-place visit
Whom to Contact in the Event of an Emergency
All personnel should know whom to contact in case of emergency. A list of all emergency phone numbers should be available to everyone and updated as assignments change. The list should be published with the OEP for the facility. This list should be included in the Go-Kit.
Building/Occupant Information
The OEP should contain specific information about the building’s construction and its occupants in narrative form or on a Building Information Sheet and Occupant Information Sheet. Floor plans should be included, with evacuation plans clearly marked.
The Command Center (COMMAND CENTER)
Emergency operations are directed from a command center. The command center should be centrally located and easily accessible for effective communication and control. The command center should have good communications capability, including at least two telephones and, if possible, portable radios and pagers.
More information on OEP's is available on the web at http://www.gsa.gov and in the search tool type in OEP or go to the url at: http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/contentView.do?contentId=13413&contentType=GSA_BASIC
For more information contact your local FPS Physical Security Specialist or Law Enforcement Security Officer (LESO) can provide further assistance or go to http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/ and type in Law Enforcement in the search tool.

VII. Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP)


The Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) is intended to ensure continuance of essential Federal functions across a wide range of potential emergencies. Essential functions are those that enable federal agencies to provide vital services, exercise civil authority, maintain the safety and well being of the general populace, and sustain the industrial/economic base in an emergency. The COOP deals with maintaining essential work once the safety of your personnel has been assured.


The anthrax attacks demonstrated that hard-copy mail is not essential for every federal office, but mail remains a critical function for many federal programs. The mail manager should be thoroughly involved in the COOP process in any case. The actual steps that are included in the COOP plan, to keep incoming and outgoing mail flowing in the event of an emergency, depend on the degree to which mail is essential to agency operations.

What are the Key Elements of a COOP?





  • Outline essential functions.

  • Plan decision process for implementation.

  • Establish a roster of authorized personnel.

  • Provide advisories, alerts and COOP activation, and associate instructions.

  • Provide an easy reference guide for emergency response

  • Establish accountability.

  • Provide for attaining operational capability within 12 hours.

  • Establish procedures to acquire additional resources.



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