Tony O'Connor CBE FORS

As Head of the Government Operational Research Service, I have valued and enjoyed the support, interaction, and collaboration with the OR Society over many years.  

I entered the OR world in 1986 as a Dept for Education Scientific Officer when there were less than 100 OR practitioners across the civil government departments. GORS as a collective organisation was many years away but there was already a professional ethos, and the OR society was a key part of the wider professional community. Despite having only vague memories of my first OR Soc conference (OR31 – Southampton, 1989) and those memories being mainly limited to the formal dinner in the Guildhall, this was the start of long-lasting relationship. 

Many Government departments use the Society to provide links into academia to expand their knowledge and application. This has no doubt helped GORS to thrive over the years – with there now being over 1200 GORS members and an additional 400 OR practitioners in the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (dstl).  

The qualified accreditation provided by the OR society is an important aspect of GORS professionalism and strengthens our position alongside the other government analytical disciplines of Statistics, Economics and Social Research.    

In return Government OR has also provided the society with presidents and vice presidents as well as numerous committee members. We’ve worked closely on the provision of training courses and more recently the design and implementation of a Level 7 OR apprenticeship scheme.  

In 2018 Mick Hudson, Viv Raven and I collated contributions on the History of GORS, reflecting 50 years of Government OR. It was interesting to see the number of cross over points between Gov and the Society. (Mick has separately written a piece on this). Over the years it has become a successful, symbiotic partnership. If you want to know more, our original History of GORS report and a video of the supporting presentation to OR60 are here ( 


On a personal level, I am extremely grateful to the OR Society. I’ve been heavily involved in NATCOR and HORAF initiatives, as well the Society’s MSC Scholarship programme. In supporting the conferences, I believe I have an unbroken run of attendance at the physical events since Warwick’s OR38 in 1996. This has included giving various keynotes and plenaries, judging and compering the President’s Medal sessions as well as running a few (and competing in many more) conference bar quizzes. But the key value of the society to me is the access to the many professional academics and practitioners I have met over the years who have always been willing to offer advice and support.   

On behalf of the Government OR Service, I congratulate the OR Society on its 75 years of OR. Thanks for all the guidance and encouragement, in the past, present and the future.