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National Exercise Program Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Exercise Nomination Tips

General Questions

What kind of support is available through the National Exercise Program (NEP)?

Through the NEP, the National Exercise Division’s team of practitioners offers direct exercise support – such as staff time and materials production – for the design, development, conduct, and evaluation of accepted exercises. Support requests can be as simple as requesting a facilitator for a tabletop exercise or complex as delivering a full-scale exercise.

Do exercise sponsors have to pay for NEP support?

Exercise support is available at no cost to sponsors. The National Exercise Division works with sponsors to determine how our staff’s technical assistance can best supplement a sponsor’s existing resources and capabilities.

When can I submit a request for support?

The NEP reviews requests exercise support twice a year, Spring and Fall. Submissions received after the submission deadline (please see the Submission Deadline table) will not be reviewed. Sponsors will be notified of their submissions’ acceptance into the NEP around 30 days after the deadline.

How far in advance of my exercise should I submit a request for support?

In general, to allow for a sufficient planning timeline, we recommend at least 4 months between NEP acceptance and conduct for discussion-based exercises or 9-12 months for operations-based exercises. Any exceptions would be made on a case-by-case basis.

Can I receive support for an exercise series?

It is possible to receive support for a series. You can choose to either submit multiple exercises from a series to the same round, or split submissions over multiple rounds depending on what works best for your planning timeline. You are required to submit an individual Nomination Form for each exercise within the series, so that the review panel can estimate the appropriate level of effort and time needed. Please note it is not guaranteed that every exercise submitted as part of a series will be accepted for support.

Can I receive support for real-world After-Action Report development?

Real-world After-Action Report development is not eligible for support through the NEP, and submitted support requests will not be considered.

My jurisdiction does not need any exercise support from the National Exercise Division, but can I still participate in the NEP?

After-Action Reports (AARs) contain crucial data that, when viewed in aggregate, provide vital insights into preparedness trends and help shape priorities for the nation’s exercises. Sponsors interested in sharing AAR results can submit data directly to nep@fema.dhs.gov and do not need to go through the support request process.

What do I do if I had to cancel my NED-supported exercise due to COVID-19?

If you were awarded support for an exercise in the past but had to postpone or cancel due to COVID-19 or other circumstances, you cannot resubmit the original exercise support request. Talk to your NED Exercise Program Manager (EPM) for support options

Who will review my support request package?

A NEP Review Panel of exercise and preparedness subject-matter experts from across FEMA and the federal interagency will review all eligible exercises and provide recommendations for support. Support notifications will be sent to sponsors around 30 days after the submission deadline.

My jurisdiction does not need any exercise support from the National Exercise Division, but can I still participate in the NEP?

After-Action Reports (AARs) contain crucial data that, when viewed in aggregate, provide vital insights into preparedness trends and help shape priorities for the nation’s exercises. Sponsors interested in sharing AAR results can submit data directly to nep@fema.dhs.gov and do not need to go through the support request process.

Exercise Nomination Tips

All eligible exercise requests will be considered. However, support is dependent upon resource availability. The NEP Review Panel uses the following guidance when reviewing nomination packages for support. Strong exercise support submissions will:

  • Align the exercise to an existing or draft plan.
  • Build upon corrective actions previously identified in exercise or real-world events.
  • Attach copies of plans and/or corrective actions that will be examined during the exercise.
  • Engage a broad spectrum of participants (e.g., whole community).
  • Address high-priority capabilities from the Stakeholder Preparedness Review (SPR), if applicable.
  • Avoid examining too many (e.g., 10+) core capabilities, since it is difficult to successfully examine a high number of capabilities in a single exercise. Many small exercises only examine 2-4 capabilities.
  • Provide a clear picture of the support needed from the National Exercise Division to conduct your exercise and why it is necessary for your exercise’s success.

The Review Panel will also consider the following factors:

  • Type of jurisdiction and amount of support requested (e.g., local, territorial, and tribal jurisdictions often have fewer resources already available than state jurisdictions).
  • Social Vulnerability Index data for exercise locations.
  • Whether the sponsor previously received support from the National Exercise Division.
  • Whether the exercise aligns to mitigation core capabilities.
  • Whether the exercise is part of a sponsor’s Integrated Preparedness Plan.
Last updated August 13, 2021