John Markoff had an extremely interesting profile of DARPA Director Regina Dugan in today’s NY Times. Be sure to read it, here.
This follows on the heels of Dr. Dugan’s impressive and heartening House Armed Services Committee testimony, blogged here, and a Computing Research News article by Lazowska and Patterson describing “New Directions at DARPA,” here.
Here’s my favorite paragraph from Dr. Dugan’s HASC testimony:
“Upon arrival at DARPA, we were determined to understand and repair the breach with universities. We discovered the following: Between 2001 and 2008, DARPA funding to US research university performers did decrease in real terms, by about half. But, as importantly, a noble and recent focus in the Agency on solving nearer term problems for the Department had resulted in some additional, perhaps unintended, consequences. The nature of the work changed, from multi-year commitments, to those with annual “go, no-go” decisions governing continued funding, which made it difficult for universities to commit to graduate students. A later stage focus resulted in more work done by universities as subs to prime contractors responsible for integration efforts, and the resulting flow-down of restrictions on the use of foreign nationals, export control, prepublication review, among others. We assessed that we could address many of the concerns identified.”
Our community was vilified – and our integrity questioned – by the previous Director for asserting precisely these things. (He famously distributed a chart showing that university funding was not decreasing … however, the chart had the backing spreadsheet attached, which showed that some key institutions, as well as the most recent year, had been omitted from the chart.)
It’s great to see these changes in direction! Remember that we must respond, by re-engaging.