||An emergency preparedness and response program provides resources and support to individuals and communities that might be affected by a broad range of disruptive incidents. These incidents may be caused by natural phenomena such as severe weather, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, or disease outbreaks. Incidents might result from human activity as well, and could include accidents, criminal acts, terrorism, or other attacks. Concerns have been raised whether current preparedness and response policies and capacities are sufficient. The effectiveness of preparedness doctrine may be demonstrated through responses to real incidents, or through exercises that practice and refine responses to a variety of potential disruptions. Exercises might demonstrate that responders have the capacity to respond effectively to an incident, or identify areas in which improvement is necessary. Lessons learned from an exercise may provide insights to guide future planning for securing the nation against terrorist attacks, disasters, and other emergencies. More broadly, emergency preparedness exercise programs may provide insights about the efficacy of the government policies establishing responsibilities within agencies, and whether those policies, organizational structures, and processes adequately ensure the safety and security of public institutions, critical infrastructures, and American citizens. Current homeland emergency preparedness exercises, carried out through authorities that created the National Exercise Program (NEP), evaluate and adapt an integrated, interagency federal, state, territorial, local, and private sector capability to prevent terrorist attacks, and to rapidly and effectively respond to, and recover from, any terrorist attack or major disaster that occurs. This report, which will be updated as warranted, provides an overview of emergency preparedness authorities and guidance; development and management of the NEP; and current exercise planning, scheduling, and evaluation processes. Additionally, it provides analysis of national preparedness policy issues and exercise operations issues that Congress might wish to consider. Legal authorities to conduct national level exercises and preparedness exercises in general are provided in Appendix A. Since homeland preparedness activities are typically addressed by planners and practitioners who use specialized terms and abbreviations, Appendix B lists all acronyms used in this report together with their meaning.