‘DARPA Dan’ joins Google’s mobile lab as deputy director

Another high-ranking fed is getting ready to call Google home. (Shawn Collins/Flickr)

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One of the federal government’s biggest tech personalities is leaving to join one of the world’s biggest tech companies.

Multiple sources confirmed to FedScoop that Dan Kaufman, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Information Innovation Office, was named deputy director of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects, or ATAP, group.

Better known as “DARPA Dan,” Kaufman has been the agency’s public face as of late, appearing on various television programs and at various conferences to highlight DARPA’s work in areas like cybersecurity, the Internet of Things and autonomous vehicles.

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Dan Kaufman (DARPA)

Kaufman will be working with former DARPA Director Regina Dugan, who left the agency in 2012 to create and direct ATAP, Google’s research and development lab dedicated to creating next-generation mobile devices and services.

Kaufman has been in the news recently for his work with Memex, a DARPA-created search engine that combs the Dark Web for illicit activity. He was interviewed by 60 Minutes to explain how the system works earlier this year.

ATAP has also been in the news recently for a number of projects announced at Google I/O, the company’s annual developers conference. Among the projects ATAP unveiled was Project Jacquard, a process that weaves electronic components into textiles to program touch or gesture interactivity to clothes and furniture.

Other recent projects to come out of ATAP are Project Ara, a customizable smartphone that users can build piece by piece, and Project Tango, a tablet-based sensor system that allows people to create 3-D maps of their surroundings.

The move is another spin of the revolving door of talent between the Silicon Valley giant and the federal government. Current U.S. CTO Megan Smith was vice president of Google[x], another research lab best known for creating Google Glass and the company’s driverless cars, prior to coming to Washington. A number of former Google engineers and policy analysts are now working on federal projects (like Mikey Dickerson with the U.S. Digital Service) or shaping tech policy (like Alan Davidson at the Commerce Department).

Brian Pierce, the deputy director of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office, will take over Kaufman’s current job.

Kaufman’s last day at DARPA is June 12.

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Dan Kaufman, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Defense (DOD), Departments
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