More than three years after the Indian Express
special series on the woeful state of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO)
by me and Express
senior editor Amitav Ranjan, the government has finally managed to order a comprehensive restructuring plan for the beleaguered organization with immediate effect. It was our 8-part special front-page series, titled Delayed Research Derailed Organisation
in late 2006 which set the ball rolling. For starters, it compelled the government to set up a committee in February 2007, chaired by Former Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Dr. P Rama Rao to review and suggest measures to improve the functioning of DRDO. After years of stiff resistance from some quarters in DRDO, the revamp plan has finally been pushed through.
A statement from the MoD today said, "To give a major boost to Defence Research in the country and to ensure effective participation of the private sector in Defence technology, the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony today approved a series of measures that will transform and revitalise the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) – in form and substance."
According to the statement, the key measures include the establishment of a Defence Technology Commission with the Defence Minister as its Chairman, de-centralisation of DRDO management, making DRDO a leaner organisation by merging some DRDO laboratories with other public funded institutions with similar disciplines, interest and administrative system, engagement of an eminent Human Resource (HR) expert as consultant to revamp the entire HR structure of DRDO and establishment of a commercial arm of DRDO.
Significantly, the decisions also include continuation of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) for design and development of combat aircraft, continuation of the Kaveri aero-engine programme, development of MBT Arjun Mk-II and Akash Mk-II by DRDO and selection of industry partners by DRDO through a transparent process by evolving a suitable mechanism.
The recommendations of the Rama Rao Committee together with DRDO's views and the report were extensively deliberated upon by the three Services and the Defence Ministry. The Defence Minister Shri Antony had subsequently constituted a committee on June 25, 2009 under the Chairmanship of the Defence Secretary, to consider the responses and the suggestions made by various stakeholders on the recommendations of the Rama Rao Committee and to arrive at a set of acceptable recommendations. The committee chaired by the Defence Secretary met on five occasions and gave its recommendations to the Defence Minister.Decentralisation of DRDO Management
The decentralisation of DRDO management will be achieved through formation of technology domain based centres or clusters of laboratories headed by Directors General. Seven centres will be created based on functionalities and technology domains. It will be the responsibility of the Directors General to ensure timely execution of major programmes and encouragement of research in laboratories. DRDO will also ensure full autonomy to all laboratories as far as S&T initiatives are concerned. While empowering the Directors of the laboratories, DRDO will put in a mechanism in place to ensure the accountability of the laboratory Directors.Leaner DRDO
One of the major recommendations of the Rama Rao Committee was to make DRDO leaner by merging some of its laboratories with other public funded institutions have similar discipline, interests and administrative systems. Some of these ecommendations of the Committee have been accepted by the Defence Minister.Restructuring of DRDO
The present Director General of DRDO will be redesignated as Chairman, DRDO. Directors General at centres and CCsR&D at Headquarters will report to Chairman, DRDO, who would be the head of the organisation. The Chairman will head the DRDO Management Council having seven Directors General and four CCsR&D at Headquarters and Additional Financial Advisor (R&D) as members. Financial Advisors at the appropriate levels would report to Directors General / Lab Directors to ensure accountability.Revamping of DRDO's HR Structure
DRDO will now hire an eminent HR expert as Consultant to revamp the whole HR structure. The Consultant will be entrusted with the task to examine issues such as selection and tenure of Directors and avenues for the induction of talented persons, independently spotted by the Lab Directors and the heads of centres, including filling up of wastage vacancies.Commercial Arm of DRDO
A new Commercial Arm of DRDO would be created by DRDO as a Private Limited Company with a seed capital of about Rs. 2 crores. The commercial arm would deal only with the spin-off products and technologies meant for civilian use. It will not take up any manufacturing activity. For any production activity the services of public or private sector industry will be utilised.