Former DARPA Director Broke Ethics Rules By Encouraging Government Funds Flow To Company She Founded
August 15, 2014 by Ben Bullard
Regina Dugan, the former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has been scolded in a U.S. Inspector General‚Äôs report for improperly granting her blessing to agency contracts that were awarded to a company she had previously founded — and in which she continues to hold a financial share.
Dugan, who has given her own TED talk to inspire innovative thinking among would-be tech leaders, founded and still holds a financial stake in RedXDefense, which designs detection devices for drugs and explosives. She was the company‚Äôs CEO until 2009, when she departed to take over at DARPA.
During her time at DARPA, Dugan refrained from involving herself directly in any contract-awarding process for which RedXDefense was a bidder. But the company nevertheless received major contracts which drew the scrutiny of the Inspector General‚Äôs office in 2011.
From a report at The Verge Thursday:
[A]fter RedXDefense won $1.75 million in contracts under Dugan’s eye, a watchdog group¬†called for¬†the IG to¬†make sure “DARPA selects and awards grants and contracts with integrity.” That complaint was filed in 2011 and an investigation got underway soon thereafter. Dugan ultimately left her post (and government work) a few months later¬†to join Google’s ranks.
…In regards to the investigation, Dugan and DARPA insisted there was no favoritism, pointing to the many contracts RedXDefense had lost out on as proof. But the IG reached a different conclusion. “We determined that Dr. Dugan violated the prohibition against using her government position for the stated or implied endorsement of a product, service, or enterprise,‚ÄĚ said the report.
That finding hardly took the form of¬†a reprimand, however ‚ÄĒ the IG report did not recommend prosecution or discipline, and none has been forthcoming since the case was closed.