What is Mission?


Based on the ISO definitions of “mission” and general management concept, I would define “mission” as follows:

“Mission” is the organization’s purpose for existing (the reason for being) as expressed by top management that guides the choice of the context in which the organization operates, provision of services and products, formulation of its vision and long-term goals, and the institutionalization of its tasks, duties, or functions.

The NIST FARM Multi-Tiered Risk Management

NIST FARM deals with risk in terms of three tiers: organization, mission/business processes, and information systems. Organizations generally conduct different types of mission functions composed of a variety of business processes that are supported by information systems to achieve organizational objectives.

NIST FARM-MultiTiered

Source: NIST SP 800-39

Continuity Guidance Circular 2 (CGC 2)

  • According to the Continuity Guidance Circular 2 (CGC 2) of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a mission typically is something unique the organization does.
  • Mission Essential Functions (MEFs) are a broader set of essential functions that organizations must continue throughout or resume rapidly after a disruption of normal activities. MEFs are those functions that enable an organization to provide vital services, exercise civil authority, maintain the safety of the public, and sustain the industrial/economic base.

CGC2 Mission

GIA’s Missions

The organizational mission is typically documented as a mission statement. The missions of government departments or agencies are written in laws or regulations. For example, the missions of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency are defined in 10 U.S.C. 442 – Missions as follows:

NGA Missions 442



Figure 3 — EOMS strategy as related to mission and vision (Source: ISO 21001)


Figure 2 — Representation of the structure of this document in the PDCA cycle (Source: ISO 21001)

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