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Tips from the CDC's CIO on H1N1 flu preparedness

As a second wave of swine flu looms, we check in with James Seligman, CIO at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on a CIO checklist for H1N1.

As fears of a second outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus reach a fever pitch, we went to ground zero -- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- and checked in with CIO James Seligman. Here, he offers his tips for swine flu preparedness:

James Seligman
James Seligman
There is a wealth of information out there for the general public and businesses on steps to H1N1 flu preparedness. What issues should CIOs pay particular attention to in preparing their organizations for an H1N1 outbreak?
Seligman: I have five major points in rank order. The first question is, do you have a pandemic influenza plan and is your corporate board involved in that? That is step No.1.

Specific to CIOs and IT would be establishing sufficient remote access capacity and capability for continuity of operations. In our case, we have the ability to support 40% of our workforce simultaneously from their residences. And that is simultaneous work, so people can do other kinds of work that doesn't require them to be logged on constantly during the day.

Second, cross-training or having sufficient staff depth, particularly in mission-critical operations, which doesn't mean necessarily the top of the echelon. It doesn't matter what their pay scale is; they are mission-critical to keeping the operation running. So ensuring that you have two-deep, three-deep, cross-training or fallback people lined up to carry out those functions is important.

More swine flu resources
Q&A: Talking swine flu and Conficker with the CIO of the CDC

Tips for business continuity and contingency planning for swine flu

Swine flu -- not hurricanes -- leads disaster recovery agenda
CDC: 2009 H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu)

Swine Flu Update: Liveblogging the CDC Press Conference
Topic No. 3 is [prerequisitioning] all kinds of supplies. If your supply chain for toner cartridges or paper or thumb drives or tape cassettes runs dry and these supplies are critical, you need them stocked, as well as other supplies, respirator masks, antiviral medications, or hand sanitizers or food, if you have the ability to support working 24/7.

Doing some supplier readiness checking is Topic No. 4, particularly if you are highly dependent on outsourcers, whether it is data outsourcers or application outsourcers, CIOs should be checking as to how prepared they are for significant impact on work and outage from flu.

Lastly is human resource policies related to social distancing. Does the company permit and enable having people work from home and still be paid, or take liberal leave without being penalized to help prevent the spread of influenza?

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer

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