The National Exercise Program (NEP) is the nation’s exercise program. This national initiative is to test, assess and improve the nation’s preparedness and resiliency. By assessing preparedness against a set of common national preparedness priorities, the Principals’ Objectives, the NEP improves preparedness and resiliency and affects policy, priorities and fiscal decisions.
The NEP is truly national in scope with the goal of fostering coordination and building relationships across the nation before an incident occurs.
Each NEP cycle includes exercise types from drills to functional exercises and includes participants and exercises from all levels of government, non-governmental and private sector organizations and the Whole Community.
- Why Should I Participate in the NEP?
- How do I Participate in the NEP?
- What are the Key Characteristics of the NEP?
- Principals' Objectives
- General Objectives
- Exercise Assistance
By incorporating already scheduled or planned exercises, sponsoring organizations do not incur any additional costs by participating in the NEP. Other benefits of participation include:
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can provide exercise technical and evaluation assistance.
- The NEP provides unparalleled collaboration, coordination and networking opportunities across multiple levels of government.
- Exercise objectives remain unchanged allowing exercise sponsors to retain full control of their exercises.
Exercise sponsors participating in the NEP improve national preparedness by:
- Testing the nation’s capabilities as they relate to national-level priorities.
- Measuring progress toward achieving the National Preparedness Goal.
- Supporting long-term trend analysis.
- Providing for a systematic evaluation of our nation’s readiness and resiliency.
Organizations can participate in the NEP in the following ways:
- Self-nomination – Complete an exercise nomination form and submit directly to FEMA.
- Coordination with FEMA Regional Exercise Officers (REOs) – REOs assist with submission forms and offer expertise and support for exercises.
- FEMA-selected exercise – FEMA reviews the National Exercise Schedule (NEXS) for eligible exercises and contacts exercise sponsors for nomination into the NEP
NEP Exercise Nomination Information
To nominate your exercise to the NEP, complete the National Exercise Program Nomination Form and email it to NEP@fema.dhs.gov with the subject line “NEP Nomination Form." Exercise sponsors are encouraged to nominate exercises to the NEP continuously throughout the entire NEP cycle.
Exercises selected for the NEP must align to one or more of the Principals’ Objectives. All exercises must be fully functional prior to nomination. To learn more about NEP selection criteria, visit the National Exercise Program Selection Criteria page.
For more information on the nomination process, email NEP@fema.dhs.gov.
The National Exercise Schedule (NEXS)
To access the NEXS, copy and paste the following URL into your Web browser. An HSEEP Toolkit account is required to access the NEXS.
If you do not have an HSEEP Toolkit account, you can create one by copying and pasting the following URL into your Web browser:
Collaborative. The NEP is a national program that encompasses a series of exercises of all types for domestic incident management. The NEP reflects a “whole community” approach and a program that is collaborative and inclusive.
Aligned. The NEP is objectives-based and capabilities-driven under Principals’ Objectives set by Cabinet members and White House officials.
Progressive. Each NEP cycle is a two-year progressive cycle with an increasing level of complexity over time ending in a capstone, national level exercise (NLE).
Flexible and Agile. The NEP evaluation process identifies critical issues, corrective actions and lessons learned through a Rolling Summary Report.
Measureable. NEP federal staff incorporates performance measures and other evaluation metrics into NEP exercises for trend analysis to improve the performance of exercise participants and inform the preparedness cycle.
The Principals’ Objectives are high-level objectives based on national preparedness priorities across the homeland security enterprise. NEP exercises must align to least one of the following Principals' Objectives:
- Exchange intelligence, information, data or knowledge to enable timely and informed decision-making prior to and during an incident that threatens the security of the nation.
- Identify threats and hazards and share prompt, reliable and actionable risk information with the public, including actions to be taken and assistance made available during the onset of any hazard that threatens the security of the nation.
- Establish and maintain a unified and coordinated operational structure and process, capable of identifying, prioritizing and delivering resources across all hazards and lead-federal agency authorities, including catastrophic incidents where a Stafford Act declaration is not likely and domestic response to foreign nations overwhelmed by disaster.
- Establish and maintain plans, authorities, responsibilities and coordination capabilities that support the recovery of local communities affected by catastrophic disasters.
General Objectives address Whole Community operational issues that support the Principals’ Objectives.
General Objectives provide the national preparedness community an opportunity to promote and potentially test exercise-specific preparedness issues. FEMA solicits general objectives from across the homeland security enterprise and encourages the Whole Community to share their insights.
General Objective Submission
The period to submit input for the general objectives has ended however if you have exercise objectives you feel will align well with the Principals’ Objectives and will benefit your exercise, please submit your idea to NEP@fema.dhs.gov. FEMA will review your general objective submission and contact you.
Whole Community exercise assistance, historically provided through mechanisms such as the Regional Exercise Support Program (RESP), is available exclusively to those exercises that require additional coordination within the NEP.