Consideration of the Terms of Reference 1

To assess the effectiveness of the scientific and management leadership and process for cultivating long-term vision/mission and strategy, and the contribution of BGS towards NERC's mission and 5-year strategy.

  1. There is no doubt in the Panel's mind that the BGS can be categorised as very successful and should be readily supported by NERC for the foreseeable future. This undoubtedly has its roots in the resolute management and science leadership provided to the BGS by its Executive Director Dr Falvey.

  2. The BGS Board were also qualitatively judged to be making a very positive contribution to the leadership of BGS. They do not have any high level "success factors" against which to measure their performance and the panel suggests that it may be helpful for these to be developed. BGS as an organisation could usefully develop a suite of high level performance targets against which the Board on behalf of NERC and stakeholders can measure BGS success.
    • BGS management commentary
      Agreed. A very similar suggestion was made in the context of the 1997 SMA, and was implemented as the BGS 'balanced scorecard'. However, it does not match OST requirements, and stands only as a guide to BGS management and the BGS Board. The BGS would welcome a wider roll-out of the 'balanced scorecard'.

  3. The BGS has published a very clear Mission Statement supported by a precise statement of aims. In general the Panel's view is that as well as properly reflecting NERC's priorities the BGS is effectively performing against these two sets of guidelines. However the Panel is concerned about financial pressures affecting BGS's ability to comprehensively deliver against its commitment to undertake the systematic survey of the United Kingdom as set out in the first paragraph of its Mission Statement.

  4. Whilst acknowledging the role and value of the Mission Statement and supporting description of Aims, the Panel felt that it would assist the BGS and its stakeholders if it could enunciate a vision, with clear deliverables, for where it sees itself being in the short and medium term. The panel were told for example, that BGS sees itself becoming a digital, e-business based organisation and that it aims to make geological information available in formats more readily.
    • BGS management commentary
      Agreed; a new vision statement has now been drafted.

  5. All those presenting science programmes were able to explain how they fit into the priorities in the current NERC strategy Science for a Sustainable Future. The Panel were aware that the BGS programmes were developed in response to the 1998 NERC Strategy Looking Forward and in some cases are still evolving to fit the NERC Science for a Sustainable Future published in 2002.

  6. The forward looking Programme Development Groups (PDGs) within BGS focus on the development of science programmes and consider how the objectives, approach and delivery of the science programmes to the user community can be improved. The Panel were impressed by the PDGs, but they are taking time to develop.

  7. BGS covers a huge breadth of activity and scientific work. There is evidence that the organisation is stretched, so an assessment of its activities might be beneficial with evaluations of whether those activities that are identified as having low priority or are less strong are continued, thus allowing more time and effort on their high priority work. Chasing funding can skew the correct priorities.
    • BGS management commentary
      The BGS does indeed cover a wide range of scientific work and activities. This breadth reflects the range of demand for our services from our customers at the NERC, in government, agencies and the private sector. The BGS Executive Committee and Board prioritise the work programme on a regular basis. The BGS is currently planning a new core strategic programme for 2005-2010 for submission to NERC in 2004. An assessment of the current programme and definition of priorities for the new programme will be a key part of this process. In respect of the CR programme, the BGS will continue to respond to customer needs.

  8. There was evidence from presentations that awareness of the wider scientific environment was excellent in parts of BGS such as Wallingford, the work on Montserrat and the Edinburgh Continental Shelf and Margins programme and Anisotropy Project, and not as developed elsewhere. The panel would encourage a more outward looking culture to be developed across BGS.
    • BGS management commentary
      Development of an outward-looking culture is an important part of the BGS ethos and will be further encouraged in those areas where it is less well developed.

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