The Cabinet set up the Empowered Technology Group, to be headed by the Principal Scientific Advisor, on February 19 as an institutional body to lay down, coordinate and oversee national-level policies related to the procurement and induction of technology.
As per the Cabinet Secretariat’s direction on February 29 to all ministries, the new body will vet all department proposals exceeding Rs 500 crore for the procurement of technology/products before they are submitted to the Expenditure Finance Commission.
“In cases where such proposals are placed before Cabinet or Cabinet Committees, the draft Cabinet/Cabinet Committee notes, along with interministerial comments, shall be shared with the Empowered Technology Group,” the secretariat said. The Cabinet notes should “separately and clearly reflect the technology implications” of the proposal in the main body of the note in a paragraph immediately following the section on financial implications.
The government has modified the handbook on preparation of Cabinet notes to include this requirement and has asked for strict compliance with the change on an immediate basis.
The Empowered Technology Group has the mandate to render “sound and timely advice” to determine the direction and trajectory of the government’s research & development and technology development programmes.
The group’s objective is to identify the challenges before the country in various sectors that can be addressed through technology, identify such solutions and advise the government on these aspects, besides developing a technology indigenisation road map.
Its mandate also involves encouraging ministries and states to develop in-house expertise in policy and use of technologies such as data science and artificial intelligence.
The group consists of the chairmen of the Atomic Energy Commission, the Space Commission and the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the secretaries of the IT, telecommunications and science & technology ministries.