District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) has traditionally been the principal organ at the District level to oversee the implementation of the anti-poverty programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development. Created originally for implementation of Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP), the DRDAs were subsequently entrusted with a number of programmes, both of the Central and State Governments. Since inception, the administrative costs of the DRDA (District Rural Development Agency) were met by setting aside a part of the allocations for each programme. Of late, the number of programmes had increased and several programmes have been restructured with a view to making them more effective. While an indicative staffing structure was provided to the DRDAs, experience showed that there was no uniformity in the staffing structure. It is in this context that a new centrally sponsored scheme - DRDA Administration - has been introduced from 1st April, 1999 based on the recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee known as Shankar Committee. The new scheme replaces the earlier practice of allocating percentage of programme funds to the administrative costs.
The objective of the scheme of DRDA (District Rural Development Agency) Administration is to strengthen the DRDAs and to make them more professional and effective. Under the scheme, DRDA is visualised as specialised agency capable of managing anti-poverty programmes of the Ministry on the one hand and effectively relate these to the overall efforts of poverty eradication in the district on the other.
The funding pattern of the programme will be in the ratio of 75:25 between the Centre and the States.
The DRDA will continue to watch over and ensure effective utilisation of the funds intended for anti-poverty programmes. It will need to develop distinctive capabilities for poverty eradication. It will perform tasks which are different from Panchayati Raj Institutions and line departments. The DRDAs would deal only with the anti-poverty programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development. If DRDAs are to be entrusted with programmes of other Ministries or those of the State Governments, it must be ensured that these have a definite anti-poverty focus. In respect of such States where DRDA does not have a separate identity and separate accounts.