Select Committee on Defence Tenth Report


The Met Office (formally the Meteorological Office) is one of the United Kingdom's best known public bodies, and has an international reputation for meteorology and environmental science. It is an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). We explored the relationship between the MoD and the Met Office and the rationale for MoD's ownership. It appears that the MoD has provided support to the Met Office and enabled it to develop its scientific research capabilities. We emphasise the importance of continued investment in the Met Office and welcome the Minister's statement supporting future funding. We were impressed at the importance placed on the work of the Met Office by the MoD and Armed Forces.

We considered the Met Office's performance against its Key Performance Targets, and the value of the targets. We were not convinced that these were the most effective way of providing direction to the Met Office, and agreed with our witnesses that the customer-supplier relationship was an important part of improving performance.

A major aspect of that performance is the ability of the Met Office to generate commercial income. We urge it to develop its commercial abilities, and to resist the temptation to become 'risk-averse' following a recent unsuccessful foray into the commercial market.

We found no reasonable grounds for the MoD's decision to down-grade the post of Chief Executive of the Met Office. The person who fills that position will be central to the continued success and development of the Met Office. We recommend that the MoD reconsider its decision.

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Prepared 26 July 2006