DRDO restructures for greater accountability - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 12 September 2013

DRDO restructures for greater accountability

DRDO projects will now be overseen by seven senior "director generals" functioning alongside its laboratories

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 13th Sept 13

Dr Avinash Chander, the new Director General of Defence R&D Organisation (DG DRDO), has signalled his determination to reform the functioning and oft-criticised work culture of his organisation.

Within three months of his appointment he has implemented a far-reaching decentralisation, appointing seven top scientists, who earlier held the post of “chief controllers”, as “director generals” of various clusters.

As “chief controllers”, these officials performed advisory and coordination roles, but were not responsible for the success of individual projects to develop weapons and equipment. That buck stopped with the directors of the DRDO’s fifty-two laboratories.

On Sept 2, the seven new “director generals”, or DGs, were given executive responsible for the success of projects being developed by their laboratories. For example, the “missile cluster” comprises of four laboratories, which co-operate to develop missiles like the Agni-V, which will be tested on Sunday. These have always functioned under the Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), who was never accountable for project success or failure.

The seven clusters that will be headed by the seven new DGs are --- aeronautical systems (Aero); electronics and communications systems (ECS); missiles and strategic systems (MSS); naval systems and materials (NS&M); armament and combat engineering (ACE); life sciences (LS); and micro-electronic devices and computational systems (MED & CoS).

The CCs were headquartered in DRDO Bhavan in New Delhi, but the new DGs will be based in the cities where their clusters are concentrated. The DRDO today announced that DG (Aero) and DG (ECS) have begun functioning in Bengaluru. The DG (MSS) will shift headquarters to Hyderabad, DG (NS&M) will be located in Visakhapatnam, while DG (ACE) will be headquartered in Pune. The other two will continue to remain in Delhi.

Many CCs had maintained offices alongside their clusters, dividing their time between Delhi and their cluster locations. While the DGs will continue to divide their time, they will be headquartered henceforth along with their laboratories.

“The DG will come to headquarters only for budget planning, review programmes or if additional funds are needed. He or she has the authority and responsibility to deliver products…. We will create a focused hierarchy in DRDO,” Chander told Business Standard, in his first interview after taking over as DG.

While Chander has implemented the Rama Rao Committee recommendation that was in his power, other recommendations have languished in the MoD for five and a half years. These include the establishment of a commercial arm for marketing DRDO-developed technologies; the establishment of a Defence Technology Commission that would approach issues relating to high technology holistically; and the change of nomenclature of DG DRDO to Chairman DRDO.

The DRDO chief wears three hats --- DG DRDO, Secretary R&D, and Scientific Advisor to the Raksha Mantri. With the appointment of seven DGs, each wielding executive and financial power over a technology cluster, the Rama Rao Committee has recommended that a chairman be appointed to oversee them.


  1. On missile front, I would say that DRDO still delivers. But what about HAL, they haven't been able to build basic or intermediate trainers & leave alone all rafale,fgfa,amca,etc. It should be HAL first when it comes to accountability.

  2. Is there a law where in the Babus of the MoD can be punished, held accountable for gross negligence, aiding and abetting dilution of national security and working against the state for "the Rama Rao Committee recommendation that was in his power, other recommendations have languished in the MoD for five and a half years. "

    How can India punish those who eat of tax payers money but act in contradiction of and for the state.

    Also why cant the head of DRDO be a joint scientific advisor to the RM. Holding this with someone from the services. This as in the past the scientific advisors to the RM have given such advises that India and more so the armed forces had to pay....whilst like the MoD babus sitting on a job for 5 and a half years, these also give wrong advise whilst the troops pay heavily and the advisor still pockets his salary and chairs the position

  3. Thats a long pending move....and a step in the right direction....tightening the loose ends.....more accountability...more responsibility...would eventually lead to availability of quality weapons and systems to the services in quick time...and optimal use of national resources and funds...

  4. I seem to remember the post of "Chief Designer" in HAL was upgraded to that of "Director (Design) in 1972 for the same pious sentiments expressed above.The result was the poor chap's every proposal-and there were many- were all shot down by some cretin in the Finance Ministry.
    One can call the post "Sweet Fanny Adams" and still get the job done-but only if you empower the post.

  5. you have not covered such a big and successful launch of Agni v


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