Congressional Continuity of Operations (COOP): An Overview of Concepts and Challenges [Updated January 14, 2003] [open pdf - 89KB]
From the Summary: "Interruptions of congressional operations by incidents such as episodic computer virus infections, or the anthrax contamination that took place during autumn 2001, have demonstrated the importance of congressional continuity of operations (COOP) planning. COOP planning refers to the internal effort of an organization to assure that the capability exists to continue essential functions in response to a comprehensive array of potential operational interruptions...This report discusses the circumstances surrounding COOP planning, including provisions for alternative meeting sites and methods for conducting House and Senate meetings and floor sessions when Capitol facilities are not available...One challenge involves the relocation of legislative activities. There appears to be no constitutional bar to the House and Senate adopting a resolution that approves meetings of either chamber outside the Capitol in advance of doing so...Other concerns regarding physical security have prompted some observers to propose creating a virtual or electronic Congress (e-Congress). Although these suggestions have generally focused on the creation of a Web site accessible by Members anywhere in the country, it is unclear exactly how an e-Congress would be constituted and operated. Other challenges for COOP planning include maintaining Member office information security, and the Legislative Information System (LIS). Although current congressional COOP planning began prior to September 11, 2001, details surrounding House and Senate COOP planning are not publicly available, and some specific information is excluded from this report to preserve operational security. Contingency planning in the House, however, has evolved over the past 20 years and there exists a range of backup strategies for maintaining critical House legislative and administrative information systems."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31594