A watchdog group is asking the Defense Department’s Inspector General to review a potential conflict of interest between the director of the Pentagon’s research agency and a company she founded that has been awarded defense contracts by her agency.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded about $6 million in contracts to RedXDefense, about $1.75 million of which came after Regina Dugan became director in July 2009, according to a letter the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) sent to DOD Inspector General Gordon S. Heddell. Dugan founded RedXDefense and POGO said Dugan’s father is RedXDefense’s chief executive officer and her uncle is on the board.
POGO want to make sure Dugan had nothing to do with the contracts being awarded and determine if any DARPA employees knew about her connections to the company. Dugan has recused herself from dealings with RedXDefense, according to POGO, but she hasn’t divested her financial holdings in the company and has disclosed that RedXDefense owes her $250,000.
“Almost as troubling as the appearance of a conflict of interest are comments attributed in the press to DARPA officials who seem to take a blase attitude toward Dugan’s relationship with RedXDefense,” Danielle Brian, the executive director of POGO, said in a statement. “The inspector general should determine whether a simple recusal is sufficient and whether DARPA’s ethics policies should be strengthened.”
POGO’s letter on Dugan’s potential conflict of interest was prompted by a Wired story by Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman.