An Expert committee formed by the Indian government has recommended setting up an independent organization outside the ministry of defense to undertake defense procurement.
The committee, headed by retired IIM professor Pritam Singh, recommended this measure to overcome the unending problem of delays in defence procurement, unspent budgets, allegations of corruption and botched deals.
The committee will submit its report that runs into more than 300 pages to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar next week, The Financial Express reported today.
“We have given this new organisation full ownership of the acquisition process by bringing legal, financial, costing and technical experts under one roof.” A member of the committee said.
Being freed itself from the Ministry of Defence, the committee will not be constrained by government rules, the member said. This professionalization of the process will bring down the time taken to complete defense acquisitions.
“We have also recommended adequate internal checks and balances to reduce corruption,” a member of the expert committee said.
The nine-member expert committee was formed by the Ministry in May last year with the mandate for ‘Restructuring of the Acquisition wing to make it more effective’.
In its recommendations, the committee has also proposed that a new organisation, tentatively called the Defence Capital Acquisition Authority, will be responsible for the entire process of acquisition after the operational requirements have been identified by the defence services.
The new organization will be operating independently of the defense Ministry. Further, it will be manned by people with specific qualifications, including experts from outside the government who are fit to serve in these positions.
However, there will be a seamless integration at the highest level between the Ministry of Defense and this organisation where the “decision-making will be collective and collegiate.
“This organisation will convert all acquisition schemes and program into projects, which will be the responsibility of a project management team from the start to finish.
Project that belong to different services, say UAVs for the army and the air force, will be clubbed together as one single project,” a member of the expert committee said.
Based on features taken from similar organisations in France, the UK, Australia and South Korea, this new organisation will combine several functions currently undertaken by different agencies: service headquarters are responsible for defining the technical features of weapon systems and undertaking trial evaluation, Director General Quality Assurance for quality assurance, the office of DG (Acquisition) for contract negotiation, Department of Defence Production for industrial development and The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for sponsoring research on futuristic technology.
The capital acquisition wing of the Ministry will be brought under this new organisation.