First external review lists process to revamp DRDO

‘Brand DRDO’ is wilting due to an institutional gap between the research body and the three armed forces...

Written by Manu Pubby | New Delhi | Published:March 2, 2009 1:20 am

‘Brand DRDO’ is wilting due to an institutional gap between the research body and the three armed forces,the first-ever external review of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has said.

The P Rama Rao Committee,which has drawn up a revamp roadmap for DRDO,has observed that one of the main reasons behind the failure of the research body to deliver on time is the lack of dialogue with the forces.

To “elevate” the DRDO’s performance,the committee has recommended the setting up of five new institutions within the organisation. Its new avatar will have a dedicated board for research,a commercial arm on the lines of ISRO’s ANTRIX and a key services interaction group to involve the armed forces in projects from the inception stage.

The DRDO will be governed by a key ‘Defence Technology Commission (DTC)’ that will be an “overarching authority” on the development of new products,induction of new weapon systems into the armed forces,including indigenous,and reorganisation of the research body.

To be headed by the Defence Minister,the commission will include the NSA,Cabinet Secretary,the three armed forces chiefs,five secretaries from various ministries,two leaders from the private industry and the DRDO chief. The DTC will meet twice a year.

To bridge the gap between the armed forces and the DRDO,a Services Interaction Group (SIG) will be set up.

To be headed by a three-star armed forces officer,the SIG will be the main coordinator between the DRDO and Service Headquarters for all projects. Its mandate will be to address the problem areas and build “bridges of friendship” with the research body. The SIG will have Major General-level officers from all three armed forces,each responsible for developmental projects of their service.

Key reforms suggested by the committee to bridge the gap between the DRDO and the services will be implemented by the SIG. These include the attachment of junior scientists to the services after joining the DRDO and setting up of ‘technical directorates’ within each service to identify developmental areas.

The committee has said that the DRDO needs to urgently revitalise research programmes and call on external help if necessary to step up developmental programmes. A Board for Research in Advanced Defence Sciences (BRADS) will be set up within the organisation to promote research. With the DRDO not spending enough on research,10 per cent of its annual financial outlay will be directly delegated to BRADS.

Another new body,the Defence R&D Investment Board,will be set up to oversee the modernisation of the research body. The board will review and grant funds for upgradation of labs and facilities. It would also examine expenditure proposals for setting up of new labs and infrastructure.

Finally the committee has recommended that the DRDO set up a private limited company on the ANTRIX model to market its services,systems and technologies to international markets.

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