Federal Reserve System Vigilant for Flu Pandemic
Recently, the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors joined with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Office of Thrift Supervision to issue an interagency advisory to financial institutions and their technology service providers regarding the threat of a flu pandemic.
Key responsibilities spelled out
The joint statement referred to the national strategy issued by the White House on Nov. 1, 2005. This strategy outlined roles and responsibilities of the federal government, the private sector, and others. The statement called special attention to a number of the private sector’s key responsibilities identified in the national strategy, including:
- Establishing infection controls in the workplace that become reinforced during the annual influenza season. These controls include, if possible, options for working offsite while ill, systems to reduce infection transmission, and worker education;
- Establishing contingency systems to maintain delivery of essential goods and services during times of significant and sustained worker absenteeism;
- Where possible, establishing mechanisms to allow workers to provide service from home if public health officials advise against nonessential travel outside the home; and
- Establishing partnerships with other members of the same sector to provide mutual support and maintenance of essential services during a pandemic.
Fed is developing its plans
The Federal Reserve System had already been working on many of these issues before the joint statement and continues to refine existing plans and explore new innovations. System-level groups are applying the principles of the responsibilities listed above in many areas including payment services and supervision and regulation. Similarly, business continuity efforts in each Federal Reserve district are seeking to minimize risk to employees while still allowing the Fed to meet its obligations to financial systems and the economy.