What is Mission Continuity?

Penn’s Mission Continuity program is an institution-wide effort, sponsored by the Office of the Executive Vice President and the Office of the Provost and designed to address the following fundamental question:

What protocols and procedures are in place to plan for circumstances which may cause the temporary interruption of the University's normal operations and its core programs and services?

These circumstances include a variety of possible crises, including: a fire, flood, release of hazardous materials, or interruption to utilities that damages or destroys facilities; an epidemic that affects employees and students for extended periods; a security breach or other computer crime that results in the loss of information, records, or systems; or any other event that causes a temporary interruption in operations.

As part of the program, Schools and Centers at the University are responsible for developing mission continuity plans and recording them online using Shadow-Planner, a software package selected by a cross-functional working group and configured for use at Penn.

Liaisons to the program have been identified from all Schools and Centers. These liaisons will work with their units—in phases, on a cohort basis—to develop their mission continuity plans and enter that information into Shadow-Planner.

What is the vision?

The overriding goal for the Penn Mission Continuity program is to develop a sustainable, University-wide program to uphold the core missions of the University (research, teaching, service) and resume programs and systems that may be impacted or threatened in the case of a crisis or disaster. Mission continuity extends beyond crisis management planning to include disaster recovery and business continuity (business processes/functions and management decisions). Continuity plans for all organizations and buildings will be developed to inform decision making and keep Penn prepared.

Who is responsible?

Schools and Centers at Penn are responsible for constructing their mission continuity strategies and plans, and entering them into the Shadow-Planner software. To accomplish this, a working group of mission continuity liaisons was convened to work with School and Center leadership to identify the faculty and staff members responsible for developing, entering, and maintaining each plan. A mission continuity representative will also be designated in each School and Center. These representatives will serve as a conduit for two-way communications and be responsible for sharing and distributing important program information within their organization and sharing lessons-learned and feedback with other program participants. Some individuals may serve in more than one role. For example, the same person may be both a plan liaison and plan contributor.

Who benefits?

The entire University benefits from having consistent, standardized mission continuity plans in place. Should disaster strike, these plans will provide the information necessary to assist Schools and Centers resume their operations as quickly as possible.

Schools, Centers and departments benefit by having a mission continuity plan, because it provides them the information necessary in order to resume business-as-usual in the face of a crisis.

Individuals responsible for developing plans benefit because they have at their ready a web-based tool for entering and maintaining mission continuity plan information. The software provides a framework for creating a plan, indicates what components are needed in a plan, and helps with updating and ongoing maintenance of the plan.