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 revitalize the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) – in form and substance.
The key measures include the establishment of a Defence Technology Commission with the Defence Minister as its Chairman, de-centralization of DRDO management, making DRDO a leaner organization by merging some of the DRDO laboratories with other public funded institutions with similar discipline, 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.
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.
It may be recalled that the Government had set up a committee on February 08, 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. The committee was mandated through its terms of reference to review the present organizational structure and to recommend necessary changes in the institutional, managerial, administrative and financial structures for improving the functioning of DRDO. The Committee, after year – long deliberations, submitted its report to the Government on February 07, 2008.
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.
Defence Technology Commission
A new Defence Technology Commission will now be established with the Defence Minister as its Chairman and supported by a Secretariat located at DRDO Headquarters.
Decentralization of DRDO Management
The decentralization 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.
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 recommendations 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.
It has also been decided that the budget for rejuvenating Research may reach 5 percent of DRDO budget in a period of three years.
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.
It has also been decided that ADA will continue to perform its role of design and development of aircraft and DRDO to continue with the Kaveri Aero-Engine Programme. DRDO will also take up the development of MBT Arjun Mk-II and Mk-II version of Akash. DRDO will also select industry partners through a transparent process by evolving a suitable mechanism.