The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is gearing up for the most far-reaching overhaul in its 52-year chequered history plagued by embarrassing time and cost overruns in key military projects.
Seeking to make the DRDO more competitive and accountable, Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Thursday approved a raft of measures such as creation of an overarching body to oversee its functioning, decentralising management functions and merging laboratories to make the organisation leaner.
The recommendations made by the P. Rama Rao Committee in February 2008 — the DRDO’s first external review — form the bedrock of the roadmap for restructuring the R&D body.
A Defence Technology Commission will now oversee the DRDO to ensure timely execution of projects. The Commission, to be headed by the defence minister, is expected to include the National Security Advisor, Cabinet Secretary and the three service chiefs.
The DRDO’s management is being decentralised by merging its 50-odd labs to form seven clusters based on technology domains such as missiles, electronic warfare, radars, aerial vehicles and underwater weapons.
Labs working on life and food sciences would be disbanded to allow the DRDO to focus on critical weapons programme. The organisation has barely achieved 35 per cent indigenisation against a target of 70 per cent.
The DRDO has also been asked to hire consultants to revamp it HR structure.
The organisation is hamstrung by a shortage of more than 1,400 scientists and has failed to retain talent. The DRDO’s also getting a new commercial arm, with a capital of Rs 2 crore, to focus on spin-off products and technologies meant for civilian use.