DARPA chief leaves Pentagon for Google job

Hiring called big coup for Google

Google, in a coup, has hired DARPA Director Regina Dugan to fill a senior executive position.

Regina Dugan
Regina Dugan (Photo: DARPA)

Google confirmed that it has hired Dugan away from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, but the company declined to say what position she will hold.

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

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research, said luring Dugan away from the Pentagon is a big coup for Google.

"This is good, because Google has to care a lot about cybersecurity," he said. "They have a high level of concern. A single broad breach would ruin their Google Apps business. And Google looks to hire very smart people with deep engineering knowledge. I also would assume that she's a strong manager and spokesperson."

Created more than 50 years ago to develop new technology for the U.S. armed forces, DARPA is the research arm of the Department of Defense. Dugan became the agency's 19th director on July 20, 2009.

According to the DARPA website, Dugan is experienced in counterterrorism and defense against explosive threats. She served as a DARPA program manager from 1996 to 2000 and directed a $100 million string of programs, including the Dog's Nose initiative, which focused on the development of an advanced, field-portable system for detecting landmines.

Dugan, who has a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology, led a counterterrorism task force for the deputy secretary of Defense in 1999 and served as a special adviser to the vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army from 2001 to 2003.

Lt. Col. Melinda F. Morgan, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said Dugan is expected to leave her post at DARPA sometime within the next few weeks after a transfer of leadership responsibilities to DARPA Deputy Director Kaigham J. Gabriel. Gabriel, who has been deputy director since July 2009, will serve as the agency's acting director until a permanent chief is hired.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin and on Google+, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon