Difference between revisions of "Strategic planning and the NERC Corporate Plan, 1985 — a geological survey in transition"

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From: Allen, P M. 2003. A geological survey in transition. British Geological Survey Occasional Publication No. 1. Keyworth:British Geological Survey.

Chapter 3 Strategic planning and the NERC Corporate Plan, 1985[edit]

Strategic planning was as new to the BGS in 1985 as corporate planning was to the NERC. For both it was a first-time experience. That year, the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, the management umbrella for all the research councils, required the NERC to begin the process of making annual corporate plans. The BGS developed its own first Strategic Plan as an act of rebellion against the NERC Corporate Plan.

Sir Hermann Bondi put the first draft of the NERC Corporate Plan together with the help of his personal aide in the last few months of his tenure as the Chairman of the NERC. It was then submitted in secrecy to a brainstorming by a small group of officials and NERC Council members, including Geoff Larminie who was later to become Director of the BGS. During 1984 it went through a number of drafts, the seventh of which was issued from the Chairman’s private office for distribution amongst senior managers in the component institutes of the NERC on 10 December. Council had agreed the broad structure of the plan and the principles outlined in the document on 29 November.

The two main themes in the Corporate Plan that provoked antagonism amongst NERC staff were the ones to reduce the staffing in the component institutes by about 30% over five years and to move spending away from the component institutes towards universities. The third theme, which created a more adverse reaction in the BGS than in any of the other institutes, was to centralise the management of the institutes by the creation of a new tier of senior management to be based at NERC HQ in Swindon.

The plan envisaged the creation of three science directorates, headed by directors of science based in Swindon. They were to be Grade 3 in rank, which was the rank of the BGS Director. The creation of Directors of Marine Sciences and Terrestrial and Freshwater Sciences was not seriously opposed by the other NERC institutes, largely because this would bring together under common management a disparate group of small institutes that seriously lacked a common sense of purpose. In contrast to this, the creation of a Director of Earth Sciences was to accompany the fragmentation of the BGS and the transfer of the Grade 3 post from the Director of the BGS to the Director of Earth Sciences. In the proposed structure for the Earth Sciences Directorate there were to be five BGS senior managers answering directly to the Director of Earth Sciences. These were the Director of the BGS, the Chief Geochemist, the Director of Information and Central Services, the Director of Energy and Offshore Programmes and the Chief Geophysicist. The entity called the British Geological Survey was to contain three divisions. These were the Overseas, the UK North Land Survey and the UK South Land Survey divisions. The title of Director of the BGS was to be used for the Grade 4 post with management responsibility for all three of them. He was to manage the UK South Land Survey Division; the other two divisions were to be headed by deputy directors.

In every respect this was an ill-conceived plan. Downgrading the rank of the Director and transferring the top layer of management to Swindon were mere insults; breaking up the Survey into five parts and running four of them independently of what was to be called the British Geological Survey struck right at the heart. It had been Sir Kingsley Dunham’s aim that the Institute of Geological Sciences should become the ‘premier research institute of its kind in Europe’. Between 1967 and 1975 he doubled the staff to over 1000 and in doing so recruited scientists capable of carrying out research in almost all branches of the earth sciences. Although the divisional management structure lead to rivalry and conflict there were several big, multidisciplinary programmes, like the Mineral Reconnaissance, Mineral Assessment, Geothermal and Radioactive-waste-disposal programmes, which provided the cement needed to maintain the integrity of the organisation. Malcolm Brown’s introduction of matrix management and the establishment of the multidisciplinary Regional Geological Survey projects added to this. The view then, as now, was that the BGS’s strength lay in it being a big, multidisciplinary research institute with a great breadth of research capability. The segregation of the geological mapping operations into a separate body, as envisaged in the Corporate Plan, was contrary to all the trends of the time. As so often has happened, it illustrated the lack of understanding of earth science among the largely biological membership of Council and the NERC senior management in Swindon. The proposals in the Corporate Plan also appeared to take little cognisance of some of the important recommendations of the 1982–84 Visiting Group.

Careful reading of the Corporate Plan revealed a number of other issues to concern BGS staff. For example, there was full recognition that it was an objective of the NERC to undertake strategic and applied research of practical relevance to public and commercial policies in the UK and overseas (paragraph 3.6), but this was followed (7.3) by a statement that the NERC’s financial objectives in commissioned research were, among other things, to sustain strategic and applied research without undue strain upon the Science Budget. The implication of this statement is that strategic research, which was fundamental to the existence of the BGS, should be funded primarily by commissions. Furthermore, paragraph 4.6 contained more than a veiled threat:

The problem of the systematic regional geological survey of the UK landmass [presumably a reference to the large backlog of maps and memoirs mentioned in the draft 1982–4 Visiting Group report] must be resolved in the interests of Government and industry. Alternative approaches, with concomitant loss of precision, will be applied if additional resources cannot be found.

It was fairly easy for geologists to come to the conclusion that Council did not regard the surveying function of a Geological Survey as one that they should fund and, by implication, that they were looking for a way of reducing the Science Budget spend on earth science. The last sentence in the paragraph, in particular, with the words ‘concomitant loss of precision’ provoked fury within the Land Survey of the BGS. It was a repeat of the attack the Visiting Group had made on what it called ‘perfectionism’ in the mapping programme, but it also carried with it the message that geological maps were easy to make and were not something that NERC research staff should be involved with.

The draft Corporate Plan reached BGS managers on a ‘for your eyes only’basis on 12 December. The NERC Secretary, Dr John Bowman, revealed the contents of it to the General Purposes Committee of the NERC Whitley Council (the Whitley Council is the machinery by which management (‘Official Side’) negotiates with trades unions (‘Union Side’ or ‘Staff Side’) in the Civil Service and related bodies) on Monday 17 December. Union representatives at the meeting were sworn to secrecy, which meant that officers of the union at lower levels were not allowed to see the plan or know what was in it. Significant parts of the content had, however, been leaked by Christmas and the BGS Section Committee of the Institution of Professional Civil Servants (IPCS, later to become the IPMS) was becoming highly agitated, not least because BGS management appeared to be doing little more than murmuring darkly about it. The minutes of the Directorate meeting of 11 December 1984 record that the Corporate Plan was shortly to be released in confidence to senior managers. The next meeting was scheduled for 21 February and there is no evidence from the files that any emergency Directorate meetings were called in the intervening period to discuss action over the Corporate Plan.

Frustrated by the inactivity, Neil Aitkenhead, who was Chairman of the BGS Section of the IPCS, phoned me during the Christmas break and asked me, as a past chairman of the section, if I would act on behalf of the union and try to organise the management into effective opposition to the plan. (As a PSO Programme Manager I had received a copy of the plan — against instructions from the NERC that it was to be issued only to managers of Grade 6, which was what most Research Programme Managers were, and higher rank.) I agreed, and a letter was put out to all IPCS members in BGS management on 4 January 1985 calling them to meetings in Keyworth on 11 January and in Edinburgh on 14 January, which I would chair. Practically all senior managers attended whether they were union members or not. There was unanimous opposition to the NERC Corporate Plan and the idea emerged at the meeting in Edinburgh that the BGS should develop its own corporate plan.

I reported these meetings to the Director, Malcolm Brown, and he agreed that I should convene an Extraordinary Senior Officers’ meeting to discuss appropriate action for the BGS to take; this would take place on Friday 18 January, and he would be in the chair. Despite foul weather, almost all staff at Programme Manager level and above attended this meeting.

Although BGS senior staff had complied with the injunction from the NERC to treat the Corporate Plan as a confidential document, the whole of it had been leaked, allegedly from one of the NERC’s small grant-aided research bodies attached to a university. The institute directors, themselves, wrote a letter of protest to Council, which they copied to the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES). An article and an editorial based on it appeared in the THES on 25 January. Both of these actions were described as an act of betrayal of trust by the new NERC Chairman, Mr Hugh Fish, in his letter to staff about the Corporate Plan early in February. However, because of them, enough was known about the plan’s contents during January for staff to have formed a view on it before the meeting held on 18 January. The common perception in the BGS was that the Assistant Directors and Director either did not have the will to fight it or did not know how to do it. There is some substance given to this in the wording used by the Director in his introduction to the meeting on 18 January. Ramues Gallois (Programme Manager, Armorica; see Figure 3) took notes throughout the meeting and prepared a report on it afterwards. The following is a direct quote from that report:

Director introduced the discussion of the NERC Corporate Plan by stating that it had not been discussed with any institute director, but had been revealed to them at a meeting just before Christmas. They were told that it had been approved by Council. He therefore took no responsibility for the plan and wished to offer every assistance to those members of staff who wanted to make comment on or oppose the plan. Because of his complete lack of involvement in the formulation of the plan, he had not called the present meeting, but welcomed the grass roots interest it has aroused and the enthusiasm with which the staff had sought to bring discussion of the plan into the open …

The Director then went on to give details of the letter sent to NERC Council and copied to the THES. There were, in fact, two separate letters: one signed by the eleven institute directors and another from the directors of the three grant-aided bodies in the NERC. Points made by the directors included:

  • the apparent defeatism of the NERC in accepting a progressive decline in funding from Government without making any effort to seek additional funds
  • the introduction of an additional tier of management at NERC HQ in Swindon
  • their total opposition to the proposal that programmes would be managed from Swindon
  • the cessation of direct access by directors to the Chairman of the NERC by the intervention of a new committee and the new post of Director of Science
  • the absence of any statement about how the staff cuts were to be realised; in particular the absence of any mention of compulsory redundancy, which the directors thought would be required
  • the iniquity of transferring funds from the institutes to universities
  • the lack of a definition of the role of institute directors in the new structure.

The THES article was highly critical of the NERC and referred back to a speech made by Professor John Sutton of Imperial College at the opening of an exhibition in the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the British Geological Survey, in which he had expressed the opinion that the thrust of the Corporate Plan was wrong and that it should be frozen until an enquiry had taken place on how the NERC did its job. He, like many others at that time, thought that the BGS should be funded from outside the research-council system. The leading article was no less critical. It pointed out two main pressures that were being brought to bear on the NERC. One was from Government departments who, in managing post-Rothschild arrangements for commissioning applied research, had shown no regard for the NERC’s need to maintain a portfolio of strategic research to underpin the short-term commissioned research. The second pressure was from the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, which wanted to see a larger proportion of the Science Budget spent in universities and less in the institutes. The ABRC was accused of being prepared to permit the dissolution of the Government’s important scientific assets for a highly uncertain return and of displaying a bias towards the physical sciences and the physico-chemical end of biology. The NERC’s response to both pressures was described as doing it little credit.

The full senior officers’ meeting at Keyworth lasted for over two hours and finished with unanimous agreement to take action on four fronts:

  • A letter, already drafted, should be sent to all Council members and the assessors from Government departments who attended Council meetings, urging a major revision of the plan. It was to be signed by all members present. The letter was to reach the Council members before the next Council meeting on 24 January and remain confidential until then.
  • The letter was to be released to all staff on 25 January and from that time would form the basis for BGS opposition to the plan.
  • The Director and all senior officers should actively encourage all staff to campaign against the plan and for the retention of the BGS as a single management entity, as autonomous as possible and not in the NERC.
  • The BGS should draw up its own Strategic Plan (not a corporate plan, as originally intended, in order to distinguish the BGS activity from that of the NERC) as a matter of urgency; this should include realistic cost estimates for running the Survey’s Science Programme.

The proposal to prepare a BGS Strategic Plan was made from the floor by Tony Wadge, and he was nominated by the Director to be the chairman of a working party of six who would have access to all BGS staff for the purpose of taking evidence. On the following Wednesday, the Chief Geologist, Gordon Smith, the two Land Survey Programmes Directors, John Hull and Wyndham Evans, the Deputy Director, Innes Lumsden, and I met in Edinburgh and agreed that either the Director or the Deputy Director should chair the Working Party. Tony Wadge agreed to stand down. The Director, however, would not agree to this proposal, and the next day he suggested, instead, that Brian Kelk, who was the Programmes Director in charge of the Information and Central Services Directorate, should take the chair. I was nominated to be the Working Party secretary.

The nomination of Brian Kelk, was not widely welcomed. He had only recently transferred to the BGS from the NERC Science Division in Swindon, where he had been secretary to Prep Group A, the committee which oversaw earth sciences and which had instigated the damning 1982–84 Visiting Group report on the BGS. It did not help that, by Friday 25 January, rumours were circulating that his name had appeared on a list of possible candidates for the Swindon-based post of Director of Earth Science, which was, in the new structure, to be superior to the Director of BGS. As it turned out, he was an excellent choice as chairman of the Working Party, being able to take advantage of his position to coordinate the campaign against the NERC, in which he astutely used the skills and contacts he had made while at NERC HQ.

The campaign, which, in simple terms, was to keep the BGS together and outside the NERC, officially began on 25 January. NERC HQ was sufficiently disturbed by it to call a special meeting of Council specifically to discuss it on 30 January, less than a week after their normal, scheduled meeting.

Effective use was made, in the campaign, of those Members of Parliament in whose constituencies staff lived, and of the scientific press. Representatives of industry, whether large companies or small consultancies, were also drafted in to help. In all of this, the BGS Strategic Plan was of central importance, both as a description of the sort of organisation that the BGS staff wanted it to be and as a campaigning document. It was meant to demonstrate the centrality of a geological survey in providing basic geoscientific information of all kinds for the user community as a whole and to make the case for a minimum level of public funding to support it.

Though not the first occasion in the recent history of the BGS when a hard look at its function and long-term future was needed, it was the only one with sufficient urgency attached to it to overcome the complacency that is inherent in any organisation that has survived 150 years and still thought that it was untouchable. In 1966, after the amalgamation of the Geological Survey of Great Britain and Museum with the Overseas Geological Surveys to form the Institute of Geological Sciences, there were 501 staff. These grew to just short of 1200 by the end of the 1970s. During this period of expansion, the Survey had been sufficiently preoccupied with a highly demanding and newly diversified work programme to pay little attention to such philosophical issues as the function of a geological survey in society. Even in 1973, when the Rothschild proposals first took effect, and funding for the work programme came to be predominantly from commissioned-research income, the full implication of the Rothschild transfer was not debated much outside the coffee clubs or in ‘state-of-the-nation’ letters by retiring Directors. There were, however, several important issues that were in need of attention. Most important of them, the balance between the Science Budget Programme and commissioned research had skewed dangerously towards the commissioned and in real terms the value of the Science Budget allocation to the BGS had fallen considerably. Malcolm Brown and the two directors before him had complained about the impact of high levels of commissioned research on the geological survey function, but in the absence of any indication on the horizon that they were likely to come down, senior managers in the BGS had had little confidence in taking a long-term view of the work programme. In fact, the only long-term view of any significance that had been taken was in relation to the recommendations of the 1982–84 Visiting Group report, when Plan 2000 was drafted. These matters strongly coloured the thinking of the members of the Strategic Plan Working Party, when they began their deliberations.

The Working Party consisted of Brian Kelk in the chair; myself, Programme Manager for Lower Palaeozoic, Southern Uplands & Lake District, secretary; Chris Browitt, Group Manager for Global Seismology; John Day, Group Manager for Hydrogeology; Don Mallick, Group Manager for Remote Sensing & Airborne Geophysics; Bob McQuillin, Programme Manager for Marine Geophysics; John Moore, Chief Geochemist; and Tony Wadge, Programme Manager for Upper Palaeozoic, Midlands and South Wales. Invitations went out to all prospective members on 29 January and draft terms of reference followed. The first meeting was held on 5 February at which, inevitably, the terms of reference were modified. The finally agreed terms of reference were:

  1. After studying the demands upon the BGS, the foreseeable use of geological data within the UK, and the structure and development of comparable geological surveys, to make recommendations on the objectives appropriate for a British Geological Survey.
  2. To make recommendations on the nature and size of a programme to meet those objectives, including a ‘core’ programme of activities without which the national geological database would be severely jeopardised.
  3. To consider all elements of the current and longer-term programme and identify those more appropriate for the university and private sector than for in-house provision.
  4. To consider how these objectives, in particular the Core Programme, can best be met, having due regard to present and probable future constraints.
  5. To report to Director by 4 March 1985.

The schedule set was punishing and it was evident early on that it could not be met. A new date of end of March was set. The Working Party met seven times, on two occasions for two days. There were over sixty hours of meetings, held in Edinburgh, Keyworth and London. To facilitate communication between the members, who were based at all the BGS offices, arrangements were made to transfer documents by the computer network. This is probably the first time that networked communication like this was done in the BGS.

An Office Notice, announcing the Working Party and its terms of reference and asking for written contributions from staff, was issued on 8 February. Verbal evidence was taken from the Director, the Deputy Director, the Chief Geologist and officers of the BGS Section of IPCS. In the period up to 18 February, 35 written submissions were received, representing the views of over 60 staff.

Discussions at the first meeting were very much influenced by a fear that the NERC wished to reduce the Survey in size or even close it down, and the first aim of the Working Party was to define the minimum viable level of activity in a geological survey, i.e. the size below which it would not be possible for the BGS to carry out what the Working Party regarded as the core functions of a geological survey. This attitude changed somewhat, after more discussion, and the more positive aim became to define the optimum level of scientific effort for a geological survey in the UK. Early on, it was decided to adopt the concept of a Core Programme, which had been introduced in the Serpel report on the Ordnance Survey, and the term ‘Responsive Programme’ was coined to include the work BGS carried out that was outside the core.

The Working Party adopted the definitions of basic, strategic and applied research provided by Dainton in A Framework for Government Research and Development, Cmnd 4814, 1071–2. According to Dainton, basic research, also called pure or fundamental, is research where the principal objective is an increase in knowledge. By common usage within the BGS, applied research is what Dainton called tactical science; that is, ‘the science and its application and development needed by Departments of State and by industry to further their immediate executive or commercial functions’. Strategic research is the broad spread of more general scientific effort, which is needed as a foundation for this tactical (i.e. applied) science. Such strategic research is necessarily long term and systematic.

Terms of reference for the BGS were proposed which recognised that the primary role of the BGS was in strategic research and associated data acquisition, handling, interpretation and dissemination. They were:

  1. To undertake, and keep under review, systematic geological and related specialised surveying of the UK landmass and designated offshore areas along with adjacent areas of future potential designation, and the underlying crust. (Throughout the report the term geological was used to encompass all branches of the geological sciences in the way that geoscience is used nowadays.)
  2. To interpret the geological structure, evolution and geological resources of these areas using the results of the surveys and related studies.
  3. To publish expeditiously or make publicly available the results of the surveys and research.
  4. To provide a national geoscience archive in readily accessible and usable form.
  5. To maintain the capability to carry out applied and other geological research on commission for Government departments and other bodies, at home and overseas.
  6. To provide an information and advisory service on geological and related matters.
  7. To undertake such research as is necessary to maintain a broadly based level of relevant expertise in the geological sciences.

These terms of reference were to be fulfilled by a Core Programme of primarily strategic research, which must be funded on a long-term basis, irrespective of the level of commissioned research in the Responsive Programme. They did not require the Survey to carry out commissioned research, but to maintain the capability to do it, should it be needed.

The Core Programme was defined as comprising those long-term systematic activities that only an Exchequer-funded Geological Survey can carry out. It provides the framework of geological knowledge within which industry, commerce and other activities can operate efficiently. It was stated unequivocally that such a programme could not be carried out by any university-based, or private-sector organisation.

Once the concept of a Core Programme was agreed, it was largely self-evident what should be in it and the Working Party concluded that there should be five components. These were:

  • geological surveys
  • geochemical surveys
  • geophysical surveys
  • hydrogeology
  • database management and information service.

Two areas, however, did provoke debate. The first was in relation to minerals. At that time all research on minerals carried out in the BGS was funded either by the Department of Trade and Industry or the Department of the Environment. It was argued, successfully, that the basic information for mineral exploration and assessment was provided through the systematic geological, geochemical and geophysical surveys in the proposed Core Programme and that no other minerals-related work could be justified in the core. Although agreed by senior management when the Strategic Plan was accepted, staff working in minerals never did accept what they regarded as their relegation to the second division.

The second area of dispute was with regard to geomagnetism. Until 1969, geomagnetic monitoring (i.e. measuring the Earth’s magnetic field) had been the responsibility of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, administered by the Meteorological Office. That year the facility had been transferred into the Institute of Geological Sciences. The resulting Geomagnetism Unit had an independent existence within the Survey, carrying out work programmes that had no bearing on anything else done in it. Eventually, the argument was carried that geomagnetic monitoring was as much a part of geophysical surveying as, say, measuring the Earth’s gravitational field and it was accepted into the Core Programme, but the threat to its incorporation was not removed and surfaced again, later, with the Butler Study Group after which it was threatened with the loss of its funding and told to become self-supporting or go.

Funding for the Core Programme was largely from the Science Budget, but as a result of changes brought about by Rothschild, two essential components were funded externally. These were mapping the continental shelf, funded by the Department of Energy and the Regional Geochemical Survey, which was funded by the Department of Trade and Industry. These were regarded as being ‘core commissions’, an important and necessary concept at that time.

The Core Programme was said to underpin a Responsive Programme of applied research which would vary in size according to the national requirement. It was to be funded by commission and have variable staffing levels, unhindered by arbitrary limits. In 1984/85 the activities that were attributed to the Responsive Programme required around 280 staff years of effort and included:

  • geological surveys overseas
  • hydrocarbon assessment offshore and onshore
  • mineral resources
  • geothermal energy resource assessment
  • environmental protection
  • specialised geological maps for planners
  • miscellaneous repayment projects.

The linkages that existed between the Core and Responsive programmes were stressed in order to make the point that the two were best managed within a single organisation. The example of the Swedish Geological Survey was salutary. In 1982 the exploration and engineering geology elements of the Swedish Geological Survey (SGU) were separated from the rest to form a government-owned company, SGAB, which operated wholly on commissions from government and industry at home and abroad. The remnant SGU was concerned with the strategic activities of mapping and documentation of bedrock, soils and groundwater and acted as the government authority in the mineral sector. For a while SGAB flourished, but the SGU became progressively less well funded. At the time of the BGS strategic planning exercise it was evident that what was regarded as Core Programme functions might suffer the same fate if the Responsive Programme were to be hived off. In fact, several years later SGAB collapsed and was closed down and the Swedish Government reinvested in the SGU.

Common services which supported both Core and Responsive programmes were named as the library (which it was suggested should be linked to other databases and information services) the cartographic services, publications agency, photography, computing, technical services, workshops and administration.

Collaboration with universities, other research institutes and the private sector was strongly recommended and several activities were identified that were suitable for contracting out. These included facilities that combined both research and a service role, such as organic geochemistry, aspects of palaeontology, stable-isotope geochemistry, isotope geochronology and microbiological studies, all of which were essential to the BGS work programme, but where demand was too low to justify, on cost grounds, including them in the BGS remit. Consideration was also given to seeking outside service provision for a number of services provided in house. These included routine thin sectioning of rocks, chemical analyses, where consistency within a large dataset was not essential, photography, drilling, down-hole geophysics and land seismic-reflection surveying and processing. It was also suggested that a review of cartography, reprographics and publication services should be carried out to ascertain the most cost-effective way of doing them.

Finally, an attempt was made to put a cost to the programmes. It was estimated that a core complement of 600 scientists, laboratory, administrative and general support staff was required and a baseline budget of £16 million from the Science Budget. Staff levels in support of the Responsive Programme had varied between 380 and 277 staff years in the previous four years. These were regarded as additional to the core staffing of 600, although then, as now, most individual members of staff take part in both programmes.

The Director submitted a consultative draft of the Strategic Plan to a meeting of all but six of the 42 senior managers in the BGS on 29 March. The agenda was brief. The report was delivered to the meeting and the motion discussed: ‘That the Report of the Strategic Plan Working Group be accepted in principle as the Strategic Plan for BGS’. After this, further action was to be decided.

The draft report was not unanimously accepted. There was disagreement about many fundamentals, including what to do with the plan when it was finished. One Assistant Director thought it should be suppressed, while the Director expressed the view that it should not be formally published. Several managers, who had not reacted to the first call for written submissions, asked if they could have extra time to prepare comments. At the end of the meeting, the Director agreed to augment the Working Party by the addition of six more members to produce the final plan, but it was not clear to many who left the meeting just what had been the verdict on the motion. The new members were: Neil Chapman, Group Manager, Fluid Processes; Ramues Gallois, Programme Manager, South-western England; Richard Haworth, Chief Geophysicist; Jane Plant, Special Merit SPSO; Gordon Smith, Chief Geologist; and Alf Whittaker, Group Manger, Deep Geology. A call was put out for written comments from senior staff and the Union Side and three further meetings were held, on 2, 25 and 26 April 1985, all at Keyworth, to prepare the final document.

The revised Strategic Plan was accepted by Director towards the end of May 1985 and was released to staff in June for their internal use only. The Plan was never published and exists only as a word-processor print-out, largely in personal files of BGS staff, though one copy has been lodged in the archives. Its preparation took place entirely within a four-month span. Though attempts were made to suppress it, the 1985 Strategic Plan was the most influential corporate document to emerge from the BGS in the 1980s and, by being taken up by Butler (see Chapter 5), it laid a foundation for the Survey’s development for the next fifteen years. The fact that it was never published is not a reflection of its worth or relevance, but of the tension and lack of trust that existed between the BGS senior management and staff in NERC HQ at that time.