Chairperson: S Kalyanraman
Discussants: Manoj Shrivastava and VS Raghuvanshi
Mahendra Prasad began his presentation by focusing on his ongoing research project which attempts to unfurl various aspects of quality assurance (QA) in army procurements, an area understudied so far. He mentioned that “Quality Assurance (QA) in Army Procurements,” was the first paper in a series of papers encompassing the Project Work entitled “Synergising QA for Speedy Defence Procurement and Ensuring Quality.” In the next paper, effectiveness of the QA in Army procurements plan to be critically analysed using the failure data which would be collected from the defects reported on newly acquired equipment during their warranty period. In the third paper, case studies of few selected procurement cases would be carried out. The final paper will explore the best QA practices and how these can be applied in our context to evolve a better QA system.
Introducing the paper, the author said that defence procurements are done primarily under two heads – capital and revenue. The former is guided by DPP, and include: fifteen years Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), five years Services Acquisition Plan (SCAP), and Annual Acquisition Plan (AAP), which is a subset of SCAP and is a two year Roll On plan. The latter is guided by DPM and includes mainly replacement equipment and assemblies, spares, components for maintenance and operation of already sanctioned assets. QA checks of all the hardware procured by Army are carried out by DGQA. Further, he elaborated upon the various stages of the evolution of DGQA. In its course of evolution, in 1968, Directorate of R&D (General) was bifurcated into Directorate of Inspection (General Stores) and Directorate of R&D (General Stores). Directorate General of Inspection was re-designated as Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) on 04 Jul 1987. At present, DGQA Organisation is under the overall control of Department of Defence Production and Supplies in the Ministry of Defence. Further, Lt Col Prasad delved on the functions of DGQA which provides QA cover to the entire range of Arms, Ammunitions, Equipments and Stores on procurement. He then talked about functions which are specific to procurement, like, vetting of response of vendors to Request for Information (RFI), assist in formulation of General staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQRs), assist in preparation of Requests For Proposals (RFPs) etc.
Subsequently, Prasad talked about Procedure of Acceptance of Capital and Revenue Procurements which is similar if not the same for both capital and revenue procurements. The first and foremost step here is that after placement of supply order an Acceptance Test Procedure (ATP) incorporating all the tests and certification for acceptance of the product ordered is prepared. In his analysis Prasad observed that the conditions laid down for acceptance are extremely stringent and capital intensive for vendors participating in the bidding process. The stakes are very high as finally only one vendor is likely to get the contract. Expenditure incurred by all other vendors not winning the bid therefore becomes wasteful expenditure and discourages them from fielding their equipment. It has been observed that many vendors withdraw at this stage. Moreover, lack of multi-skilled engineering staff with DGQA is invariably evident from the fact that the number of DGQA staff attending a meeting (especially pre-bid meetings with vendors and technical evaluation committee meetings) exceeds those from other departments/ branches/ directorates. On the draft ATP he said that it is prepared by the vendor on whom the supply order is placed. Since a vendor has a vested interest, it may not mention some very important tests for which he does not have the facility and/or certifications,. To improve QA in Army procurements, Mahendra Prasad made following important recommendations:
Lt Col Prasad concluded by saying that for the success of any military mission, right equipment, at the right time, in the hands of soldiers is as important a factor as the training and physical fitness of soldier himself. Thus, factors causing delay in procurement of Army hardware need to be identified, analysed and eliminated. Two most important features that equipment in the hands of soldiers must possess are high reliability and military ruggedisation.
Dr. S. Kalyanaraman complimented Lt Col Prasad for a very comprehensive and detailed presentation on a topical issue concerning the Indian Army. He suggested a slight tinkering with the title to bring it in sync with the content of the paper and his research design.
(Report prepared by Amit Kumar, Research Assistant IDSA)