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!
Nothing moves without funding – nothing. Without funding, good ideas are nothing more than that – ideas. I’ve seen many ideas and initiatives die before they even made it to the proverbial chopping block, simply because of a lack of money to support them. This is the time of year when we see a lot of new ideas. In public and private sectors alike, our leaders, motivated either by legislative writ or self driven compulsion, give us an annual speech to ring in the new year. These speeches come with lofty ideas – many of which we never see get off the ground because funding is never allocated. So where do we get money to conduct exercises?
Admittedly, my expertise lies in government and the funds available to build and sustain emergency management programs – not so much in the private sector and not for profit areas, but I’ll give these a crack. Public sector funds consist largely of the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP). HSGP funds a myriad of emergency management and homeland security grants including the Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG), the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), Operation Stone Garden (OPSG), and others, including Citizen Corps which is now no longer a separate grant program, but instead an optional allocation which states may choose to provide. Generally, exercises, and the expenses associated with all steps of the exercise program and project, are allowable expenses for all these grant programs.
How do you get these funds? Well, the bad news is that if you don’t already receive them, you probably can’t. There are some allocations, like Citizen Corps, which may be granted to jurisdictions by the state, but with this example you need to build a local Citizen Corps program and exercise only that program with any dollars you receive. If you do receive some of these HSGP funds, the challenge is in reallocation of dollars that are probably needed elsewhere, and budget increases are probably out of the question. So here’s where we have to get creative. Reach out to the folks who were involved in your TEPW – all those agencies and organizations. Try to gain consensus on the need for an exercise (or building-block series of them). Most or all of these agencies may have an interest if you had a successful TEPW and managed to combine some exercise initiatives. Don’t forget your private sector partners, either – especially if they are members of your Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), as they may take special interest in preparedness. Be sure to have a plan and make a business case. The TEPW that you just conducted (see the previous post in this series) provides you with an excellent statement of need and a plan to address it. You may have additional supporting documentation like after action reports, which can help add some context to your need for exercise funding. Build a budget and know how much to ask for. If each agency and organization can contribute a portion, that will all add up fairly quickly. Don’t forget the possibility of sponsorships, as well. I once managed to secure lunches to be provided for all exercise participants (about 150 of them!) in exchange for a medical supply vendor setting up in a near-venue area and giving a presentation during lunch, including the opportunity for folks to try out some of their equipment.
In the private sector, fighting for budget can be tough – especially when it’s not tied to a profit center. My advice here (and again I have limited experience in this area, so if you have any ideas, please post them!) is, similar to the public sector, 1) make a good business case for it (i.e. improved safety, response coordination, and decreased down time all minimize the loss of revenue), 2) have a plan, and 3) if you are just starting an exercise program – start small. Let the executives see the potential that can be gained from larger investments in your program. Similarly, if you can partner with a local public safety exercise, be sure to invite your executives to see how it goes and be ready to explain the benefits to your company.
As for not for profits, largely it’s a combination of the public and private sector tips. Also, consider seeking grants from foundations for the specific purpose of preparedness. Don’t just limit yourself to local foundations, either. Their may be companies that specialize in first responder or emergency equipment that may have a foundation. I would guess that their foundations would have a particular interest in preparedness activities.
Overall, be sure to plan early. Don’t expect to seek funding for an exercise that you have planned for a couple of months down the road. It may take as long as a year to get your financial ducks in a row.
As always, if anyone has any additional thoughts or ideas, I’d love to see them!
Coming soon… Managing an Exercise Program – Part 6: Conducting Exercise Planning Conferences. It’s more than just meetings!