Incident Response Checklist

This is a quick checklist for any incident (security, privacy, outage, degraded service, etc.) to ensure the team can focus on time critical mitigation/remediation while still communicating appropriately.

This is a checklist/overview document!
For detailed information see the Security Incident Response Guide


There is one checklist per-role starting with the Situation Lead.

  • Situation Lead: Declares incident and facilitates incident response
  • Tech Lead: Focuses on hands on technical response
  • Messenger: Passes information out of the situation room to stakeholders
  • Scribe: Keeps running notes in Slack on what is happening in the situation room
  • Responder: Everyone else in the situation room without an assigned role Find and follow your appropriate role checklist. Checklists are intentionally terse with links to supporting process and information where needed.

These additional roles are external to, and highly engaged with, responders in the situation room:

  • Comms Lead: communications lead overseeing crisis communications
  • Envoy: Joins agency partner situation room in case of joint incident and ensures appropriate inter-team coordination
  • Executive On-Call: Designated leadership member for escalation and support
  • GSA IR (GSA Incident Response): Official Incident Command for incidents

Sections for these roles are intentionally brief and these roles should follow their own procedures.

Role Checklists

Situation Lead

Initiate and Assess

Mitigate (Continuous)

  • Situation room is well controlled
  • GSA-IR briefed when asked
  • Severity level is appropriate or incident is cancelled if false-positive
  • Roles being effectively executed. Adjust/reassign as needed:
    • Too many responders? Let people go
    • Too few responders? Call people in
  • Any responder needing to cycle out (including self) has role clearly transferred
  • Any responder in room more than 4 hours relieved of role and asked to take a break

Resolve and Retrospect

  • Incident clearly declared closed in #login-situation
  • Incident review scheduled (within 1 week)
  • Lead incident review

Technical Lead

Initiate and Assess

  • In situation room
  • Evidence of incident confirmed and shared with responders

Mitigate (Continous)

  • Technical context shared with responders in the room
  • Incident Response Runbooks used where appropriate and steps executed
  • Creates parallel lines of investigation and mitigation to delegate to other responders

Resolve and Retrospect

  • Normal system operation confirmed


Initiate and Assess

  • In situation room
  • Impact assessment notes recorded in Slack in situation thread
  • Incident Review document created using Incident Review Google Doc and moved to the year’s subfolder under the Incident Reviews Folder
  • Link to Incident Review shared in situation thread

Mitigate (Continuous)

  • (Every 30 Minutes) Time check verbally called out
  • Any finding or significant event noted in situation thread
  • Responders asked to share artifacts (non-sensitive screenshots, command snippets, etc) in situation thread

Resolve and Retrospect

  • Noted in #login-situation when responders have drawn down
  • Timeline constructed in Incident Review document prior to Incident Review


Initiate and Assess

Mitigate (Continous)

Resolve and Retrospect


Initiate, Assess, and Mitigate (Continuous)

  • In situation room
  • Volunteer to fill unfilled roles
  • Follow direction of Situation Lead
  • Support Tech Lead with parallel tasks as needed
  • If you have additional relevant evidence or suggestions, share when appropriate
  • Drop from the situation room when asked
  • Ask to leave if you have no actions to take


  • Participate in the Incident Review if you performed actions during the incident

Comms Lead

  • Notified by the @login-comms-oncall Slack handle; Manually notified via Splunk On-Call comms-primary rotation after-hours (Target: 30 minutes before crisis comms level reached)
  • Monitors the situation thread
  • If needed, briefly joins situation room to gather context
  • Follows the Incident Comms Playbook


  • Notified by partner email to Partner Down address
  • Check in with Situation Lead if incident is active
  • Use Splunk On-Call or phone to pull in responders if a situation has not been declared
  • NOT acting as Situation Lead
  • Joins partner situation room (or equivalent)
  • Important status and context communicated between and partner situation rooms
  • Can ask for technical resource from situation room to join partner room
  • Can not bring partner responders into situation room

Executive On-Call

  • Notified by the @login-executive-oncall Slack handle
  • Monitors the situation thread
  • Ensure protection and support of incident responders


  • Joins situation room to be briefed by Situation Lead
  • Initiates GSA-IR incident if warranted and shares case number
  • Pulls in additional GSA-IR and other GSA level responders as needed
  • Manages required notifications to CISA, CERT, and other parties
  • Drops from situation room if incident is only related to availability or does not require GSA-IR command