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CAG slams DRDO for delays, declaring projects successful despite failure to meet key goals

The auditor said out of 86 DRDO projects announced successful during January 2010 and December 2019, one or more key objectives were not met in 20 of them.

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New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has slammed the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) over delays, cost overruns and irregular closure of “Mission Mode” projects by declaring them successful despite the non-achievement of one or more key objectives or parameters.

“Mission Mode” (MM) projects are taken up by the DRDO on high priority, based on specific user requirements and with definite timeframes for their completion.

These projects depend on technologies that are already available, proven and readily accessible within the DRDO or India, or from abroad at a short notice.

The CAG report, which was placed in the Parliament Thursday, 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 the initiation and sanction of such projects by the DRDO.

“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 per cent of the original timeframe,” the CAG report noted.

It added the delays ranged from 16 to 500 per cent and that an extension 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,” it said.

“The report has also mentioned that 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.

“Instead of seeking extension of time to achieve all the key objectives/parameters of the project proposal, these projects were closed as successful,” a statement by the CAG said.

The report pointed out that DRDO had taken up 15 projects costing ₹516.61 crore to accomplish the unachieved objectives of similar earlier closed projects declared as successful by it.

CAG has also noted the “inefficiencies in the planning process” by DRDO as well as raised issues of inadequate monitoring of the MM projects by the premier research organisation of the country.

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, it said.

CAG also brought out issues such as delay in productionisation of successful projects, which it said defeated 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. This affected the overall success rate of the MM Projects,” it said.

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