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Business Continuity Planning: Responding to a FedACH® Services outage or disruption situation

August 15, 2011

This is part of a series of communications that will provide information and resources on ways to help enhance and maintain your organization's business continuity plans for a variety of situations.

The Federal Reserve has consolidated its electronic mainframe applications into various sites. Complete back-up is available at each site to support electronic connections to critical applications, including FedACH Services. If a disruption to FedACH Services occurs, the Federal Reserve Banks will work to resume services as quickly as possible, but the processing of ACH files and the associated financial accounting entries may be delayed. To minimize the impact of a FedACH Services disruption, financial institutions are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Federal Reserve’s FedACH business continuity plan.

In the event of a FedACH Services disruption, financial institutions should:

  • Refer to the Service Status page to obtain the current operational status and other instructions. In most disruptions, we post alerts and updates approximately every 30 minutes.
  • Notify all pertinent personnel at your institution of the outage.
  • If a disaster occurs during midday processing, financial institutions should attempt to reconcile at the file level up to the point of failure before additional files are transmitted.
  • Retain all input and output files and voice response return items for possible retransmission.
  • Retain all out-of-balance transactions until reconcilement is completed.

As highlighted in the 4th Quarter 2009 News from FedACH, a buddy bank relationship can allow your organization to connect to the Federal Reserve using another institution’s equipment and process your FedACH transactions in the event of an outage scenario or disaster situation at your institution’s location. For information on how to set up this type of relationship, please contact FedACH Central Operations Support at (866) 234-5681.

Customers may also request enrollment in the FedACH Services Electronic Notification Service (ENS) by contacting FedACH Central Operations Support at (866) 234-5681.

 

FedACH Application Contingency Tests

Financial institutions that use FedACH Services via FedLine Advantage, FedLine Direct or FedLine Command can participate in FedACH application contingency tests to help minimize the impact of a service outage. During these exercises, customers test their ability to reconcile and resume processing of their transactions following a FedACH application recovery simulation. To schedule a FedACH application contingency test, please complete a FedACH Services Test Request Form. All requests must be received by noon, at least 48 hours prior to the desired test date.

To help better prepare your organization for a disruption, consider the following additional best practices:

  • Conduct periodic training to ensure personnel are familiar with information included in the Federal Reserve’s FedACH business continuity plan.
  • Identify key personnel to communicate with Federal Reserve personnel and disseminate information as quickly as possible during service disruptions.
  • Have the FedACH Services business continuity plan and contact information readily available for access by appropriate personnel during service disruptions.

 

Information Resources

For more information about FedACH Services contingency planning, including what to expect and how to respond to a FedACH Services disruption, please review the online FedACH® Services Business Continuity Guide. Also, the National Business Continuity Guide provides continuity information for all Federal Reserve products and services in the event of a service disruption. Look for more proactive steps to help ensure your payments resiliency in future FedFlash issues.

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