DARPA director departs for Google

Regina Dugan, the director of DARPA, the U.S. Department of Defense's research arm, is departing for Google.

From closed doors to open source, you might say.

The director of DARPA, the U.S. Department of Defense's innovative research arm, is departing for Google, Wired reports.

Regina Dugan made her name pushing cybersecurity and next-generation manufacturing -- the kind of open-arms initiatives that are historically shunned by top secret military R&D groups, Noah Schactman writes. Now she'll head to Mountain View, Calif. to crack the whip on tech projects for the Internet giant.

Her tenure at the Pentagon lasted almost three years, but it was not without controversy. Her awarding of contracts was audited by the Dept. of Defense Office of Inspector General after it was discovered that RedX Defense, a bomb-detection company that Dugan partially owns, received "hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth" of contracts, Schactman writes.

Controversy or not, the shift shows just how important it is to Google that it stays on top of the world's biggest technological problems. What was once a simple search-and-advertising company has ballooned into one of the biggest tech research entities on the planet -- so attractive that even the leader of a cutting-edge government research agency would leave for it.

Or as she told the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg last year:

I like to refer to DARPA as the nation's elite army of futuristic techno-geeks. They're best-in-class scientists and engineers, and they come to serve their country.

Just like Google -- only this time, it's in the private sector.

Exclusive: Darpa Director Bolts Pentagon for Google [Wired]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com