Pentagon to audit all DARPA contracts, following nepotism reports

Clarification: The Inspector General’s office said Wednesday that it would not audit all of DARPA’s contracts in the last two years. Instead, to complete the assessment in a timely manner, it will review a list of 2,000 actions and identify a representative number to audit. 

WASHINGTON – Responding to some good watchdog journalism into allegations of nepotistic contracting by Regina Dugan, director of the secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Defense Department’s inspector general is launching an audit of all DARPA contracts awarded in the last two years. 

Noah Shachtman, editor of Wired.com’s Danger Room blog who has reported the story since March, has it: “Since Regina Dugan became the director of Darpa, the Pentagon’s top research division has signed millions of dollars’ worth of contracts with her family firm, which in turn owes her at least a quarter-million dollars.”

Dugan is co-founder of RedXDefense, a Rockville, Md.-based company that makes security devices to detect explosives. RedXDefense’s CEO is her father, Vince Dugan, whose bio identifies him as a retired Army first lieutenant and “a platoon leader with the 35th Medium Tank Battalion and then an executive officer at company level.”

According to the Project on Government Oversight, the company received $1.75 million in contracts after Dugan became DARPA director, adding to the $4.25 million it received before her arrival. Dugan signed a recusal letter relating to the company when she became director, but still owns stock, which POGO protests.

POGO in May asked the Pentagon to investigate the possible nepotistic conflict of interest, charging DARPA officials displayed a “blasé attitude” about the case and asked DOD to look into ethics standards behind every contract in the last four and a half years.

On August 12, DOD responded with this letter informing POGO the inspector general would look at all contracts and grants awarded in fiscal 2010 and 2011. 

A woman who answered the media phone lines for RedXDefense Tuesday morning in an Orlando area code said, “We’re not giving any statements.”



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