The US defence establishment is shocked that the head of its research arm, Darpa, managed to give a military contract to an outfit which is run by her and her dad.
According to Wired, Darpa gave a $400,000 contract to RedXDefense which is a Maryland firm that specialises in detecting things that go bang.
However RedXDefense was co-founded in 2005 by Regina Dugan who is a director of Darpa. Her dad, Vince, is RedXDefense's Chief Executive Officer. If that was not enough Kevin Bacon for you her uncle, John, is on the company's strategic advisory board. No mention if any of the family pets are on the board, but it would seem all that cash as going to the family Dugan.
Darpa insists that the company didn't receive any special treatment, as Dugan did not participate in any dealings between the Agency and RedXDefense related to the contract.
When she became a Darpa director, Dugan "recused herself" from any business dealings between the agency and her family's company, preventing her from "personally and substantially participating in RedXDefense matters.
Darpa's general counsel reviewed the RedXDefense contract and found "no merit" to any suspicion of impropriety or conflict of interest. Apparently deciding to award $400,000 to family would be a decision which would not be made by her, but someone who reports to her.
We wonder what would have happened to the poor bloke who had to tell his boss that her family was not going to get the $400,000 she wanted.
Wired found agency deep throats who said that Dugan keeps close tabs on Darpa's research programs and every new call for research, or "Broad Agency Announcement," has to be personally approved by Dugan.
What was also odd is that RedXDefense's contract was wide. It seems to cover everything from nanotechnology to "operational neuroscience."
Nick Schwellenbach of the Project on Government Oversight said that Dugan is a perfect example of one of those private/public revolving doors that need a good look at. We agree. Revolving doors are simply an embarrassment, particularly if you get stuck in one.