The Indian Army’s plan to rope in private firms for its repair of vehicles, tanks, and weapons to replace the old army base workshops continues to face delays and is “fraught with risks and operational challenges,” the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said in its report.
The project, known as the Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) model, is one of the major reforms the army was considering in order to improve its combat capability while reducing spending.
Army Base Workshops (ABWs) carry out repairs and overhauls of weapons,i vehicles, and equipment of the Indian Army.
In June 2006, Army Headquarters initiated a case for the modernization of Army Base Workshops (ABWs) in view of the old vintage infrastructure and machinery available in the ABWs, the CAG said.
According to the CAG report, which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the modernisation of ABWs was plagued by administrative inefficiency and delays in deciding whether to execute the modernisation project on a turnkey basis or through a combination of procurement and work, among other things.
The report further added, “The implementation of the GOCO model is also delayed.” The original timeline for implementing the GOCO model lapsed in December 2019. The implementation of the GOCO model is fraught with risks and operational challenges as identified by the Headquarters Base Workshop Group.
The CAG report said that in 2017, based on the recommendation of the Committee of Experts, the Army decided to corporatize ABWs and foreclosed the modernization programme. The expenditure of Rs 9.46 crore incurred on the preparation of Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for the modernisation of these ABWs remained unfruitful.
The CAG said 385 out of 1077 affected civilian manpower of closed station/static workshops are lying idle and the same situation may arise in ABWs if these issues are not addressed while implementing the GOCO Model.
The audit recommended that the Ministry of Defence formulate a strategy to mitigate all risks, including the deployment of existing manpower, relating to GOCO implementation and to ensure implementation of GOCO and/or modernisation of workshops without further delay, the report added.