WORLD-famous Southampton mapmaker Ordnance Survey has been told by ministers to raise £82.3 million this year from sales, licensing and other activities.

It will also be required to cut costs by 1.5 per cent this year and make "efficiency gains" of five per cent by 2004.

And it must double the number of users of its website by March next year by improving its electronic services to web browsers and specialist users.

Beverley Hughes, the junior environment minister, said the OS website should become the focus for electronic interaction with its customers and the public.

She said: "These targets, some of which are being increased, are closely associated with the key corporate aims of Ordnance Survey and demonstrate the agency's continuing commitment to customers and to improved value for money for all its stakeholders."

David Willey, acting director general of OS, said the organisation would rise to the challenge.

He added: "These are stretching targets but we will certainly pull out all the stops to try to achieve them."

Other targets for OS, which is a state-owned trading fund which receives government funding under a national interest mapping service agreement, are:

To achieve a return on sales of not less than five per cent (excluding government work).

To ensure at least 99.5 per cent of existing major detail is surveyed and available to customers by March.

To dispatch 92 per cent of small scale product ordered within three working days.

Converted for the new archive on 25 January 2001. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.