This post is part of a 10-part series on Managing an Exercise Program. In this series I provide some of my own lessons learned in the program and project management aspects of managing, designing, conducting, and evaluating Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) exercises. Your feedback is appreciated!
Exercises can be very resource intensive, have no doubt about that. Generally speaking, the more you invest in them, though, the more you get out of them. Certainly discussion-based exercises are usually not as expensive as operations-based exercises. For all exercise types, however, the largest costs are in the design (staff or consultant time, as well as meeting time), and conduct (again, staff or consultant time, plus the time of the participants). What resources do you need for your exercise program as a whole? How do you get them?
First of all, let’s discuss human resources. In Managing an Exercise Program – Part 1, I discussed the importance of having an exercise program manager and what some of the qualifications should be for that person. A program manager is probably the most important human resource you could have for exercises, but certainly this person can’t do it alone. A good exercise program is able to leverage the experience, support, and ideas of others – both within and outside. The exercise program manager needs to be a great networker, able to draw people from various agencies into a mutually beneficial partnership. Some of these agencies will come and go, but some will be strong, permanent partners. Each partner agency, including your own, should be contributing to the efforts of the group – not only with ideas, but with people to serve as controllers, evaluators, planning team members, etc., physical resources suitable for whatever types of exercises you conduct, and perhaps even funding.
In March of 2008, I founded and co-chaired the New York State Exercise Coordination Committee, composed of several state agencies, departments, authorities, and the Red Cross. Meeting regularly and communicating often, we were able to pool our resources not only for each individual exercise, but for exercise program management as a whole throughout New York State. We formulated consistent policies and practices, allocated Homeland Security funds state-wide for exercises and corrective actions, and developed and delivered exercise-related workshops and training courses. We became the core group for the Training & Exercise Planning Workshop (more on this in the next part) and applied for and coordinated funding requests to FEMA for the Regional Exercise Support Program (RESP), which provided contractor resources to state and local exercise initiatives. We were not only able to help each other, but we were able to benefit the state as a whole. This model can be applied to other states; county and local governments; and consortia of public, private, and not for profit groups.
Keep in mind that the HSEEP cycle is just that, a cycle. You will constantly be revisiting each of these steps – sometimes out-of-order – including determining needs and sourcing of resources.
What resources do you think you will need to manage your program?
Be on the lookout for Managing an Exercise Program – Part 4: Conducting an Annual Training & Exercise Planning Workshop.