Regina Dugan, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has left the Pentagon to take an executive position with Google (News - Alert). She will be working for co-founder Sergey Brin on long-term research projects.
“Regina is a technical pioneer who brought the future of technology to the military during her time at DARPA,” a Google spokesperson told Business Insider. “She will be a real asset to Google and we are thrilled she is joining the team.”
Dugan became a polarizing figure during her time with DARPA because of her focus on practical research instead of what she called “daydreaming.” Projects like mind-controlled limbs and shape-shifting robots were scrapped for research on much-needed battlefield equipment. She focused on next-generation manufacturing and on cyber-security, which earned her a great deal of praise from the White House. During a time when Pentagon budgets have been trimmed, DARPA kept its funding levels.
At the same time, some of Dugan’s decisions were controversial. To boost the security of Department of Defense networks, she reached out to the hacker community for input. Richard Clarke, the former White House chief of counterterrorism, has said that DoD networks are “as porous as a colander.” Dugan convened a cyber colloquium last November to solicit input on how to better beef up network security.
Dugan also courted controversy because she awarded Defense contracts to RedXDefense, a company that she founded and in which she still has an ownership stake. The DoD is still auditing Dugan’s handling of contracts with the company, although internal investigations have cleared her of wrongdoing related to any other contracts that she awarded.
“Dr. Dugan’s departure is not related to an OIG (Office of the Inspector General) investigation,” Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, a spokesperson for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said in a statement. “The OIG conducts regular audits of Defense agency contracts and ethics programs; as a Defense agency, this includes DARPA.”
As Dugan transitions over to Google, Ken Gabriel, DARPA’s deputy director, will step in as interim director. Dugan is expected to leave for Google within the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, the DoD has been publicly generous about Dugan’s departure. “Regina Dugan’s leadership at DARPA has been extraordinary and she will be missed throughout the Department,” said Frank Kendall, acting undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “She leaves for an exciting new opportunity and we wish her every success.”
Edited by Jennifer Russell