Supporting the Nation's Judicial System & the Public it Serves


Tools Available to Help Courts Assess Their Continuity Programs

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has released a new resource, the Courts Continuity Assessment Tool (C-CAT), to help courts determine where the gaps may lie in their current continuity programming.

Available as an interactive online self-assessment survey (as of June 2021), or for download as an Excel spreadsheet, the C-CAT builds on prior NCSC work in this area funded by SJI.  This work includes the NCSC Courts Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning Guide and Template and the NCSC Emergency Management Lessons Learned Focus Group Report. The C-CAT incorporates advice from these new resources, and provides an interactive platform for assessing nine key areas of court continuity of operations:

1. Address Leadership Issues and Dedicate Staff
2. Build and Strengthen Collaborative Relationships
3. Identify Essential Functions
4. Develop Redundant Communications
5. Support the Needs of the Workforce
6. Address Courthouse Infrastructure Needs and Alternate Facilities
7. Address Information Technology (IT) Resilience
8. Identify Reconstitution and Cost Recovery Processes
9. Train and Exercise the Program 

Many of the questions included in the C-CAT are based on those found in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Continuity Assessment Tool (CAT), and the interactive guidance is consistent with available FEMA Continuity Planning Resources for Non-Federal Entities. Following FEMA recommendations, courts should complete an assessment of their continuity programs on a regular basis (e.g., annually).

The NCSC provides other resources related to continuity of operations and court security, including an Updated Personal Security Tips document – revised since 2009, that covers several areas related to the personal safety of judges and court staff in various settings.