Google Hires Former DARPA Chief

By Beecher Tuttle March 14, 2012

Always known to recruit creatively, Google hired Regina Dugan on Monday, the director of the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Google confirmed the hire but did not specify the role that Dugan will play.

The move across the coast ends Dugan's relatively short three-year stint as the head of the Pentagon's top research house, which is charged with the task of developing new military and defense technologies.

Wired's Noah Shachtman, who first broke the story, noted that Dugan specialized in making headlines as the head of DARPA for both negative and positive reasons.

Dugan was praised for keeping the agency under budget and for scrapping long-term, unrealistic projects and diverting the funding to immediate military needs, according to Shachtman. However, Dugan also raised a few eyebrows at the Pentagon by relying on crowdsurfing and hacker communities to broaden DARPA's reach.

She also received criticism for submitting hundreds and thousands of dollars in funding to RedX Defense, a bomb detection research company that she partially owns. The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed the matter but found that the funding didn't violate "the letter or spirit" of DARPA's conflict of interest regulations.

 Shachtman pointed out that a separate audit is assessing the administration of as many as 2,000 other contracts handed out under Dugan's reign. A spokesperson for the Office of the Secretary of Defense told Wired that the OIG conducts regular audits of defense agency contracts and that Dugan's departure had nothing to do with the inquiry.

Although Google didn't reveal Dugan's new job title, it's easy to speculate that she will have a strong hand in the company's cyber security initiatives. It also can't hurt to have another alumnus of Capitol Hill working in the building.

"Regina is a technical pioneer who brought the future of technology to the military during her time at DARPA," Google noted in a statement obtained by Computerworld. "She will be a real asset to Google and we are thrilled she is joining the team."

Dugan is expected to leave her post in the next few weeks. DARPA Deputy Director Kaigham J. Gabriel will serve as the acting director until a permanent replacement is found.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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