In August 2009 President Obama appointed Regina Dugan as director of the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Soon thereafter DARPA awarded millions of dollars worth of contracts to her family firm, which in turn owes her at least a quarter-million dollars.
The Pentagon’s Inspector General is launching an audit of those deals — and of every other research contract Darpa has signed during Dugan’s two-year tenure.
The probe isn’t itself an accusation of wrongdoing; just an investigation to see if any occurred. Darpa representatives have insisted that the agency acted properly in its dealings with RedXDefense — the bomb detection firm Dugan co-founded with her father, Vince Dugan. She recused herself from any decisions involving the company, they say, and RedXDefense won its $1.7 million in research contracts from Darpa fair and square.
DARPA used to have a rule requiring all employees to divest themselves of stock in companies the agency did business with.
Regina Dugan rescinded that rule.
And then the company she owns just happened to get themselves some nice fat contracts.
“At no time did Dr. Dugan participate in any dealings between the Agency and RedXDefense related to the contract,” Darpa spokesman Eric Mazzacone told Danger Room in March. (He declined to comment for this story.)
Nevertheless, the Inspector General’s office wants to take a closer look. Not only does Dugan still own tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock in RedXDefense; according to a financial report she filed last year, the company (now led by her father) has yet to reimburse Dugan for a “note/loan” with “no schedule of payment or guarantee of repayment.”
That’s one reason, presumably, why the IG is also launching a separate inquiry into “Regina Dugan’s continued financial and familial relations with Darpa contractor RedXDefense,” the office noted in a letter to the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group.
The look into Darpa’s deal-making won’t end there, however. Every research contract issued by the agency over the last two fiscal years will be reviewed, to “determine the adequacy of Darpa’s selection, award, and administration of contracts and grants,” the IG’s office wrote in a July 26 memorandum to other military agencies.
Is it possibly, just possibly coming full circle on these parachutees? If they do go, they’ll take fat pay checks with them. Just what does it take to be rid of these people?