The 700-odd pages of the draft Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2020 contain many new ideas but make for a tedious reading and may end up making capital acquisitions more complicated. This is not to belittle the efforts that have gone into putting the document together, but to point out that the draft requires a para-by-para review of the proposed policy and procedural changes, also taking into account the comments received by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on the draft.
The need for this exercise is twofold. One, at the policy level, it must be ensured that the proposed changes serve a distinct purpose, which is not served by, or cannot be served by modifying, any pre-existing provision. Two, at the procedural level, the provisions must be crystal clear, leaving no room for subjective interpretations, and no untied ends. The draft DPP 2020 must pass muster on these yardsticks before it is promulgated.
To illustrate, arguably the most significant change at the policy level concerns addition of several new procurement categories and alterations in the offset guidelines, both of which seem problematic. Talking about the procurement categories, their number has gone up from two in 2002 to 13 in 2020. Six of these, including a new category, are arranged in a hierarchical order with descending order of precedence.
The hierarchy comprises the Buy (Indian – Indian Designed, Developed and Manufactured), Buy (Indian), Buy and Make (Indian), Buy and Make, Buy (Global – Manufacture in India), and Buy (Global) categories. Besides these, other categories include the new Lease category with two sub-categories, Make category with three sub-categories, Innovation category, and Design and Development category.
In addition, there is the Strategic Partnership Model and the Technology Development Fund schemes. The proliferation of procurement categories could complicate the process of categorisation, not least because some of these categories have identical or similar overall objective.