Need to revamp, give us roadmap in a fortnight: Govt tells DRDO
Manu Pubby Posted: Sun Apr 27 2008, 00:36 hrs New Delhi, April 26:
Barely a month after receiving the first ever external review report on the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the government has decided to revamp the research body to fix accountability and clear the way for more private sector participation and foreign collaborations.
In fact, the Defence Ministry has decided to move a Cabinet note for the overall restructuring of DRDO as early as next month to ensure that the reorganization starts off by the end of this year. To facilitate this, DRDO has been asked to submit a detailed revamp roadmap to South Block within a fortnight.
The roadmap, which will be examined by the Defence Ministry to make sure that it “reflects the spirit” of the P Rama Rao Committee report, would lay emphasis on the need for using all means possible to incorporate globally available technologies for indigenous development projects.
As first reported in a series in The Indian Express, the 50-year-old organization came under flak for repeated delays and failures by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence in 2006. The government decided to set up a high-powered committee led by P Rama Rao, former secretary, Department of Science & Technology to “examine the effectiveness of R&D support provided vis-à-vis in-house research facilities with DRDO and to ensure effective participation of the private sector in Defence Research”. The committee submitted its report on March 5, exactly one year after it had been commissioned.
The major points recommended by the Rama Rao Committee that are to be incorporated into the road map:
• The 52 DRDO laboratories are to be realigned into five “lab clusters,” each will be headed by a Director General and have its own specialization. The broad clusters: Electronics, Armaments, Avionics, Missile Systems and a dedicated research cluster. Each cluster will have a certain degree of autonomy and will be accountable for failures and delays. The Chief Controllers, who will be re-designated as Director Generals, will move out of New Delhi to take charge of these clusters
• Setting up a tri-services cell within the framework of the organization to overlook all development projects from the conception stage itself. The cell will be headed by a three-star officer — this position will be held by all three forces on a rotational basis. The cell will have three Major General-rank officers who will oversee development projects of their respective services.
To speed up development and meet deadlines, promote joint ventures with global players, involve private sector and foreign collaborations to inculcate globally available technologies into the organization.
• Entire restructuring to be monitored by a special implementation cell that will be headed by a DRDO Chief Controller. The cell will also have a representative from the Rama Rao Committee and will report directly to the Defence Ministry.
DRDO, which has come under increasing flak for repeated delays and failures, will be made more accountable and has been told to put emphasis on private sector partnerships and foreign joint collaborations to ensure time-bound projects. The revamp will also address the long-standing demand of the armed forces for deeper involvement in defence-development projects and will push for a younger age profile of scientists.