WSR 09-22-044


[ Filed October 28, 2009, 12:38 p.m. ]

Policy Regarding Agency Operations During an Emergency

NUMBER: 10-01.

APPROVAL DATE: October 22, 2009.

STATUS: Effective October 22, 2009.

APPROVED BY: The commission.

SEE ALSO: PDC continuity of operations plan (COOP) and pandemic flu response plan.

PURPOSE AND DESCRIPTION: This policy establishes procedures the executive director may consider in the event of a local, regional, statewide or national emergency that significantly affects agency operations for an extended period of time. This policy supplements the PDC COOP and pandemic flu response plan.

This policy recognizes that during an emergency, other information, direction or guidance provided by the Washington military department's emergency management division, the office of the governor, the attorney general's office, the Washington state health department, or other similar sources, may impact these procedures or call for additional or other procedures, given the particular circumstances.

POLICY: (1) A local, regional, statewide or national emergency may require reduced agency operations for an extended period of time. Examples include office closure or significant reductions of services due to health or safety concerns resulting from a major earthquake, a pandemic flu, fire or chemical spill that renders some or all of the commission office uninhabitable, or other similar emergency situations that extensively impact agency operations.

(2) In the event of such an emergency described in subsection (1), the executive director or his/her designee is authorized to determine the best means to continue to provide time-sensitive commission core functions if possible and to the extent practicable given the circumstances. Time-sensitive core functions include maintaining the web site and making campaign finance, lobbying, and other information publicly available; providing a toll-free telephone number to accommodate additional public access; and, assisting filers in meeting their filing obligations. Core functions also include otherwise implementing and enforcing chapter 42.17 RCW but these functions are considered less time-sensitive.

(3) Many documents are currently filed electronically with the agency. Some documents are filed on paper, either by mail or hand delivery to the commission office. The postmark date or hand-delivery date is considered the date of filing.

However, in the event of an emergency described in subsection (1) it is possible that paper documents cannot be postmarked or delivered to the commission office due to closure or curtailment of United States mail and document delivery services, closure of the commission office, significant restrictions on person-to-person contacts (such as during a pandemic flu), or similar circumstances. In the event of an emergency such as described in (1), if practicable, the executive director is authorized to temporarily accept alternate means of filing paper documents with the commission if necessary and when the commission e-mail and telephone systems are still operational, so long as the original paper documents are retained by the filer and provided at the request of the agency.

For example, an alternate means for filing paper documents could include the following elements, subject to adjustment as circumstances warrant: (a) The filer contacts the agency to determine how to file paper documents during the emergency; (b) the filer receives confirmation from PDC staff that e-mail, or fax or other forms of filing will be temporarily accepted during the emergency; (c) the filer submits the documents; (d) the filer confirms by telephone or e-mail that the documents were received by the PDC; and, (e) the filer retains originals of the documents, and provides the originals to the agency upon request.

(4) In the event the agency web site, e-mail system and/or telephone systems are not operational because of the emergency, the executive director or his/her designee, following consultation with the chair or his/her designee if practicable, may determine the best course of action regarding paper and/or electronic filings, other agency operations, and core commission functions.

Washington State Code Reviser's Office