As a public sector organisation we are responsible for advising the UK government on all aspects of geoscience as well as providing impartial geological advice to industry, academia and the public. The BGS is a component organisation of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which is the UK's leading body for basic, strategic and applied research and monitoring in the environmental sciences. The NERC was founded by Royal Charter in 1965 and reports to the UK government's Office of Science and Innovation under the Department of Trade and Industry.
The BGS incorporates the former Overseas Geological Surveys, founded as the Directorate of Colonial Geological Surveys in 1947 and itself incorporating the Mineral Resources Department of the Imperial Institute, the last-named organisation having been established by Royal Charter in 1893. We continue to undertake an extensive programme of overseas research, surveying and monitoring, including major institutional strengthening programmes in the developing world. Much of this work is now won through competitive tendering.