The primary focus of the Exercise Branch of the Training, Education and Exercise Division is to assist local and State government agencies (and their private sector and not-for-profit partners) in the development, planning, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning activities. The Exercise Program follows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) HSEEP methodology. HSEEP is a capabilities-based exercise methodology designed to build a self-sustaining exercise program and to provide standards for designing, developing, conducting, and evaluating exercises of all types and scope.

The Exercise Branch supports one annual regional exercise for each of VDEM’s seven regions, the annual exercise for the Virginia Emergency Response Team (VERT) as well the Governor’s Cabinet exercise. In addition, the Exercise Branch has added the following types of technical assistance available to local and state governmental entities in designing and conducting an exercise:

  • Sharing scenarios and exercise documentation developed since the VDEM HSEEP program inception.
  • Providing one-on-one technical assistance in the design and conduct of an exercise.
  • Designing and conducting an exercise on behalf of a locality or state agency (as time and resources permit).
  • Offering a statewide calendar of exercises for all local and state governments to enter their respective exercise dates. The public view of this calendar is used for coordination and the secure view provides additional detail.
  • Providing a list of https://calendar.vdem.virginia.gov/xercise vendors  appropriately procured on behalf of local and state governmental entities through an RFP resulting in an optional use statewide exercise contract.

Please contact Lauren Opett, VaPEM, MEP  804-674-2426 to discuss your need for technical assistance or obtain secure access to the statewide calendar of exercises.

What’s in HSEEP?


HSEEP links


Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation

HSEEP is a capabilities- and performance-based exercise program that includes a cycle, mix, and range of exercise activities of varying degrees of complexity and interaction. The purpose of HSEEP is to build self-sustaining exercise programs and provide a standardized policy, methodology, and terminology for designing, developing, conducting, evaluating and improving all exercises. The HSEEP methodology provides different exercise types for both discussion and operations based objectives, which can aide a jurisdiction in examining plans, capabilities, and identifying gaps.

Evaluations tied to all types of exercises provide jurisdictions and exercise participants with the mechanism to utilize task-specific and performance-based criteria, which will be used to identify corrective actions and develop an improvement plan for future preparedness efforts and funding requests. A comprehensive all-hazard exercise program begins with planning and training, continues with the exercise itself, and culminates with evaluation and the creation of an exercise After-Action Report / Improvement Plan (AAR/IP) of all activities that occurred during the process. The AAR/IP examines lessons learned during the exercise and transforms them into corrective actions.

More information can be found on the at the DHS HSEEP website.


What does it mean to be HSEEP compliant?

HSEEP Compliance is defined as adherence to specific HSEEP-mandated practices for exercise program management, design, development, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning. In order for an entity to be considered HSEEP Compliant it must satisfy four distinct performance requirements:

  1. Conducting a bi-annual Training and Exercise Plan Workshop (TEPW) and maintaining a Multi-year Training and Exercise Plan (MTEP)
  2. Planning and conducting exercises in accordance with the guidelines set forth in HSEEP.
  3. Developing and submitting a properly formatted After-Action Report/Improvement Plan (AAR/IP).
  4. Tracking and implementing Corrective Actions (CA) identified in the AAR/IP.

Why is it important to be HSEEP compliant?

Adherence to the policy and guidance presented in the HSEEP Volumes ensures that exercise programs conform to established best practices, and helps provide unity and consistency of effort for exercises at all levels of government.


All links open in a new browser window.

  • Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program
  • Responder Knowledge Base has been designed to provide emergency responders with a single source for integrated information on current equipment, including organizing information such as the Inter-Agency Board’s Standardized Equipment List (SEL) and ODP’s Authorized Equipment List.
  • The National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), Oklahoma City, OK, is a non-profit organization funded by ODP. Working in coordination with ODP, MIPT has created a national information sharing capability on lessons learned in managing terrorist or critical incidents. The Lessons Learned Information System (LLIS) provides a national repository of terrorism preparedness and mitigation knowledge.
  • Office Of Criminal Justice Programs
  • Office For Domestic Preparedness
  • The SAVER program is designed to assist emergency responders by providing impartial, practitioner relevant, operationally oriented assessments and validations on the performance of critical equipment. SAVER assessments are made of Commercial Off-Of-The-Shelf (COTS) equipment for effectiveness, quality, and safety under conditions closely simulating actual use. Decision makers can then use the SAVER reports and responders to better select, procure, use, and maintain their equipment.


Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund