The CAG has pulled up the DRDO pointing out "deficiencies" and "procedural irregularities" committed by it in taking up new projects and splitting sanctions for them to bring it within financial powers of the organisation head.
"Scrutiny of project sanctions issued by DRDO revealed procedural irregularities relating to misleading nomenclature of sanction issuing authorities, absence of data base of sanctions and splitting of sanctions," the CAG said in its report tabled in the Parliament today.
"The above audit findings underscore that the efforts of the Ministry of Defence to bring in transparency and objectivity in functioning of its departments remain unachieved as of now," the report said.
The CAG noted that financial powers of director general, DRDO and secretary, defence research and development were enhanced to the range of Rs25 crore to Rs50 crore and Rs60 crore to Rs75 crore respectively and both these offices are held by one person only.
"Audit of sanctions revealed non-adherence with established norms and procedures for issue, circulation and recording of sanctions authorising expenditure out of public funds for various purposes," the report said.
On the splitting of sanctions, the government auditor said, "We observed that after the enhanced delegation of financial powers in July 2010, sanctions were spilt up to bring them within the delegated financial powers of the DG R and D (DRDO Chief) that is up to Rs 50 crore in consultation with the Integrated Financial Advisor."
"DRDO splitting such sanctions is tantamount to selecting financial advisor which clearly erodes the integrity and independence of financial scrutiny of expenditure proposals," the report said.
The CAG noted that in some cases, the cost of DRDO projects was brought down below Rs 50 crore by reducing the number of deliverables and curtailing its scope enabling the DG, DRDO to issue the sanction within his delegated powers.
"Clearly projects were being split up to keep the sanction below Rs 50 crore," it said.
The report said, "instead of obtaining the revised sanction for existing projects by approaching the competent financial authority at the next higher level, fresh projects were sanctioned."
The project cases cited by the CAG included the Project Akashdeep of DRDO for developing indigenous Aerostat radars and Project ADITYA for the vehicles mounted high power laser directed energy weapons.
The report said the enhancement of delegated financial powers has resulted in concentration of financial powers with the DRDO headquarters which has a "tendency to split projects to avoid reference to higher CFAs."
The CAG also noted that the DRDO "did not maintain a control register of sanctions issued and there excited no mechanism to track the number and total amount of sanctions issued for projects."
"In absence of minimum control records, the possibility of sanctions being issued in excess of funds, splitting of sanctions, issue of multiple projects for the same objective could neither be ruled out nor noticed in normal course," the report observed.
In the recent past, an internal audit report of the Defence Ministry had made similar observations there which were refuted by the DRDO saying they were only preliminary in nature.