CAG pulls up DRDO for delay in the completion of projects and failure to achieve key parameters

The CAG has also flagged time and cost overrun in completion of projects and irregular closure of projects

December 23, 2022 07:54 pm | Updated December 24, 2022 12:47 am IST - NEW DELHI

Defence Research and Defence Organisation successfully test-fired the indigenously-developed Pinaka guided rocket system at Pokhran on March 11, 2019.

Defence Research and Defence Organisation successfully test-fired the indigenously-developed Pinaka guided rocket system at Pokhran on March 11, 2019. | Photo Credit: PTI

Assessing the Mission Mode (MM) projects of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has flagged time and cost overrun in completion of projects, irregular closure of projects declaring them successful despite non-achievement of one or more key objectives and parameters, and taking up of new projects for realising the unachieved objectives of earlier closed projects declared as successful.

“In 119 out of 178 projects, the original time schedules could not be adhered to. In 49 cases, the additional time was in fact more than 100% of the original time frame. Overall, the delays ranged from 16% to 500% and extension of time for completion of projects was taken multiple times. Time overruns in completion of MM projects, where technologies are either available or easily accessible, defeats the purpose of taking them up as an MM Project,” CAG said in a performance audit on ‘Management and Outcome of Mission Mode Projects in DRDO’, the report of which was tabled in Parliament on December 21.

Out of 86 projects declared as successful during January 2010 and December 2019, in 20 projects involving an expenditure of ₹1,074.67 crore, one or more key objective(s)/parameter(s) was/were not achieved, the report noted.

Mission Mode (MM) projects are taken up by DRDO as high-priority projects based on specific user requirements with a definite time frame for their completion. These projects depend on technologies that are already available, proven and readily accessible within DRDO/India or from abroad at a short notice.

The report highlighted that despite the fact that MM projects have a very high outcome certainty due to ready availability of underlying technology, there were considerable delays in initiation and sanction of such projects by DRDO.

Stating that there were abnormal delays in submission of Administrative Closure Reports ranging from 15 to 112 months, the report said, “Out of 86 successfully closed projects, in 25 projects, the Transfer of Technology (ToT) has not been concluded or production has not started even after five to 12 years of successful closure of projects.”

Though the onus for non-conclusion of ToT and non-production of systems/items is not exclusively with DRDO, however, timely initiation and close interaction with user services could have resulted in more favourable outcomes, the CAG said.

Instead of seeking extension of time to achieve all the key objectives/parameters of the project proposal, these projects were closed as successful. The report has pointed out that DRDO had taken up 15 projects costing ₹516.61 crore to accomplish the unachieved objectives of similar earlier closed projects it had declared successful.

The report brought out inefficiencies in the planning process by DRDO as well as raised issues of inadequate monitoring of the MM projects by the DRDO noting that the inefficiencies in overall project management have resulted in several instances of cost overruns, over-assessment of anticipated benefits of projects, and delay in submission of closure reports.

The report further noted that such as delay in productionisation of successful projects defeats the very purpose of taking up such projects. There was also a lack of synergy between the DRDO and the services which resulted in divergent views on the qualitative requirements, deliverables, and outcomes of user trials, the CAG noted, adding that this affected the overall success rate of the MM projects.

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