Google hires DARPA Director Regina Dugan

The Web giant's newest executive comes to the company with a background on cybersecurity and innovation and technology development.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

One of the Pentagon's most tech-forward leaders is heading to a new job at Google. Regina Dugan has been the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which works on military technology for the U.S. Department of Defense, for the past three years.

Regina Dugan DARPA
"Regina is a technical pioneer who brought the future of technology to the military during her time at DARPA," a spokesperson for Google told CNET. "She will be a real asset to Google, and we are thrilled she is joining the team."

Although Google confirmed Dugan's hire, it is not yet commenting on her specific role at the company. According to Wired, DARPA spokesman Eric Mazzacone said that Dugan was "offered and accepted a senior executive position" with the Web giant and that she felt she couldn't say no to such an "innovative company."

During Dugan's tenure at DARPA, she focused on innovation and technology development, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism and defense. According to Wired, she pushed crowdsourcing and reached out to the hacker community, which was an unusual move for a DARPA director.

Despite Dugan's strong leadership at DARPA, she was seen as a controversial figure at times, reports Wired. One reason is because while she was DARPA director, the agency awarded contracts to a company that Dugan co-founded and still partially owns--RedX Defense--that is now being audited by the Pentagon's Office of Inspector General (OIG).

However, according to Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, a spokesperson for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, "Dr. Dugan's departure is not related to an OIG investigation. The OIG conducts regular audits of Defense agency contracts and ethics programs; as a Defense agency, this includes DARPA."

Dugan is not the first Washington insider that Google has scooped up recently. Just last month, former Rep. Susan Molinari was picked to head the Web giant's Washington office, which will most likely help Google better navigate the U.S. political system.

According to Wired, Dugan is expected to wrap up her work at DARPA within the next few weeks and Deputy Director Kaigham "Ken" Gabriel will come on as acting chief until the agency hires a new director.