Work is under way on the second stage of the Quinquennial Review into the future status of Ordnance Survey, Britain’s national mapping agency.
Following an open tendering process, the Review Steering Group has appointed National Economic Research Associates (NERA) to carry out the work and expects to receive a report on their findings by the end of April 2002.
The Steering Group – which hopes to make recommendations to ministers by the end of May – is made up of representatives of Ordnance Survey; the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR); HM Treasury; Cabinet Office; and two external members, from the Association for Geographic Information and the London Borough of Lewisham. It is hoped that a final decision on the future of the national mapping agency can be made by the summer.
Last December, the minister responsible for Ordnance Survey, Sally Keeble MP, said she was “minded” to see Ordnance Survey become a government-owned public limited company (GOplc), with the government owning 100% of the shares. It is currently a government department in its own right as well as being an Executive Agency with Trading Fund status. The possible change followed a recommendation in Stage 1 of the Quinquennial Review.
But Ms Keeble said she would like further work to be carried out to assess the costs, benefits and practicalities of such a move before coming to a final decision. As a result, she asked the Steering Group to commission a further stage of the Review.
NERA are now considering:
- The options available for transition to GOplc; the costs and benefits of such a move relative to an enhanced status quo as a Trading Fund; and the timetable of such a transition.
- The scope for, and potential benefits of, public-private partnerships within a GOplc framework in respect of current and future operating activities.
- Appropriate governance arrangements as a GOplc.
And will make recommendations for:
- A preferred GOplc structure and operating framework, including governance arrangements that safeguard the shareholder’s interest.
- A costed implementation plan.