British Geological Survey achieves agreed objectives over five years

Outside view of the British Geological Survey building

An evaluation of BGS by an independent panel has concluded that the NERC owned research centre has met all agreed objectives over the last five years (2016 to 2021).

Evaluation process

The evaluation process, the first of its kind for the British Geological Survey (BGS), was designed following the appointment of the BGS Board in 2018.

The evaluation focuses on BGS’s activities as stated in the Memorandum of Understanding between BGS and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which outlines BGS’s core remit as a geological survey.

The evaluation process began in early 2021 and was led by NERC.

A report was produced by BGS which provided a range of evidence demonstrating how BGS had met each of the key evaluation criteria.

The report was evaluated by an independent, international peer-review panel in December 2021.

The evaluation panel was chaired by Dr Daniel Lebel, Director General of the Geological Survey of Canada.

Credit is given to the BGS team that supplied the detailed evidence pack on which the evaluation was based.

Iain Williams, NERC Director said:

To meet all five objectives and exceed in their international work is an outstanding achievement for BGS and demonstrates the importance and value of the service they provide to the UK and globally.


The evaluation ranked the BGS evidence report against the following five objectives:

  1. Develop and maintain the National Geological Repository as the UK’s leading repository of data and knowledge of UK geology and ensure that the UK government, industry, academia, and the public receive beneficial services from the National Geological Repository.
  2. Develop and maintain the BGS as the main provider of impartial and independent geoscientific advice to the UK government, industry, academia, and the public.
  3. Ensure the entire UK research community is provided access to analytical facilities (including the geophysical observatory network) for UK geology in support of Earth science research and government needs.
  4. Provide leadership and steer in UK geoscience.
  5. Utilise the skills, expertise and knowledge developed and held by the BGS to support international initiatives.

The international component of BGS’s work was highlighted as excellent and ‘leading the way in international initiatives and capacity building programme and partnerships where they operate as an example to other national geological surveys’.

The panel concluded that overall BGS provided a ‘good provision of requirements’ across the period 2016 to 2021. The panel noted that had further sub-divisions been provided within the scoring matrix, these would have bordered on excellent.

In their overall comments the panel considered BGS ‘to be a science organisation that knows what they are doing and their passion for and engagement with geoscience is excellent’.


Based on the findings, the panel made recommendations to both BGS and NERC.

The recommendations will:

  • aid in achieving a rating of excellent in the next cycle of evaluation
  • ensure that the strategic planning and arrangements for BGS are fit for purpose

Karen Hanghøj, BGS Director said:

I welcome the feedback from the panel, the recommendations are timely, provide us with much to reflect on and we will ensure that they are embedded into all aspects of the organisation as part of our new strategy which will be launched in 2023.

Thank you

NERC and the chair of the independent evaluation panel would like to thank the full evaluation panel for providing their expertise and time for this evaluation.

NERC and the evaluation panel would like to thank the staff at BGS staff who coordinated, contributed to, authored, and edited the evidence pack.

Our gratitude is extended to all those who completed the stakeholder survey, whose feedback was central to this evaluation.

Sir Keith O’Nions, Chair of the BGS Board said:

On behalf of the BGS Board I would like to thank the evaluation panel for their recommendations.

We recognise the immense amount of work that BGS staff deliver on behalf of the UK and thank them for the contribution to the evidence report.

Top image:  Credit: British Geological Survey

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