DARPA Director Leaves Pentagon, Moves to Google
2012-03-14 0:00

By Noah Shachtman | DangerRoom

Darpa director Regina Dugan will soon be stepping down from her position atop the Pentagonís premiere research shop to take a job with Google. Dugan, whose controversial tenure at the agency lasted just under three years, was ďoffered and accepted at senior executive positionĒ with the internet giant, according to Darpa spokesman Eric Mazzacone. She felt she couldnít say no to such an ďinnovative company,Ē he adds.

Darpa Director Regina Dugan at the íAll Things Dí conference. Photo: Nosillacast/Flickr,

Duganís emphasis on cybersecurity and next-generation manufacturing earned her strong support from the White House, winning her praise from the President and maintaining the agencyís budget even during a period of relative austerity at the Pentagon. Her push into crowdsourcing and outreach to the hacker community were eye-openers in the often-closed world of military R&D. Dugan also won over some military commanders by diverting some of her research cash from long-term, blue-sky projects to immediate battlefield concerns.

ďThere is a time and a place for daydreaming. But it is not at Darpa,Ē she told a congressional panel in March 2011 (.pdf). ďDarpa is not the place of dreamlike musings or fantasies, not a place for self-indulging in wishes and hopes. Darpa is a place of doing.Ē For an agency that spent millions of dollars on shape-shifting robots, Mach 20 missiles, and mind-controlled limbs, it was something of a revolutionary statement.

Darpa Director Regina Dugan. Photo: Anette Polan / Wikimedia.

The shift was only one of the reasons why Dugan was a highly polarizing figure within her agency, and in the larger defense research community. The Pentagonís Office of Inspector General (OIG) is also actively investigating hundreds of thousands of dollarsí worth of contracts that Darpa gave out to RedX Defense ó a bomb-detection firm that Dugan co-founded, and still partially owns. A separate audit is examining a sample of the 2,000 other research contracts Darpa has signed during Duganís tenure, to ďdetermine the adequacy of Darpaís selection, award, and administration of contracts and grants,Ē according to a military memorandum.

Results of the inspector generalís work havenít been released. And the work had ďno impactĒ on Duganís decision, according to her spokesman, Mazzacone. ďThe only reasonĒ she decided to leave the Pentagon was the allure of working at Google.

ďDr. Duganís departure is not related to an OIG investigation,Ē Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, a spokesperson for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, adds in a statement. ďThe OIG conducts regular audits of Defense agency contracts and ethics programs; as a Defense agency, this includes Darpa.Ē

ďIn the spring, questions were raised over whether it was appropriate for Darpa to have funded a proposal submitted by RedXDefense, particularly in light of the Directorís continuing interest in this closely held small business,Ē Morgan says. ďIn response, the Department reviewed the processes in place at Darpa to ensure that those processes would ensure integrity and public confidence.Ē That review ó separate from the OIGís ongoing audits ó found that Darpa and its chiefís actions ďwere consistent with the letter and spirit of relevant laws, regulations, and policies governing conflict of interest.Ē


Read the full article at: wired.com

Video from: YouTube.com

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