Home > Systems and Analyses Center

Systems and Analyses Center

The Systems and Analyses Center (SAC) is one of three Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) operated by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a not-for-profit corporation. Sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), SAC traces its roots to 1956 when IDA was formed. Its mission is to provide objective analyses of national security issues, particularly those requiring extraordinary scientific and technical expertise. (PDF)

Pic 1-Dr. Chu welcomes Gen Mark Welsh. Pic 2-Defense Science Study Group aboard Opsrey MV-22.

In addition to OSD, SAC’s sponsors include other joint leadership in the Department of Defense – i.e., the Joint Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Defense Agencies, and joint programs and activities. To avoid institutional pressures to support individual military service positions, SAC conducts research for the Military Departments only in circumstances that ensure there will be no conflict of interest.

With the encouragement and approval of OSD, SAC also conducts appropriate research for other Federal departments and agencies.


To guard its objectivity and freedom from conflicts of interest, SAC does no work for commercial firms, has no financial or other stake in the implementation of its findings, and does not compete for federal contracts. While enforcing a rigorous review process to ensure the independence and objectivity of its analyses, SAC maintains a low public profile, deferring to sponsors on the use of research results.

SAC has a high-quality, interdisciplinary research staff blending long-standing experience and current knowledge to provide both corporate memory and state-of-the-art expertise. More than 90 percent of the research staff have advanced degrees; over 55 percent have PhDs. About 70 percent of IDA researchers were educated in engineering, the physical and life sciences, mathematics and statistics, and computer science; the remainder were educated in economics, political science, business, and other social sciences. When needed to address sponsor problems, SAC augments its regular staff with a deep bench of adjunct staff members and consultants with specialized expertise. IDA encourages its researchers to be active professionally – including publishing in the open literature – to maintain currency and to promote career development.


Systems and Analyses Center Research Divisions

Cost Analysis and Research Division4

Dr. David J. Nicholls, Director
The Cost Analysis and Research Division (CARD) engages in resource analysis  - both people and money -  on a broad set of topics in support of  resource allocation within the Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal agencies. more...  


Information Technology and Systems Division4

Dr. Margaret E. Myers, Director
The Information Technology and Systems Support Division (ITSD) supports Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) cyber operations as the technology and threats continue to evolve.  ITSD researchers focus their efforts on all aspects of cyber from technology policy and operational perspectives – and where these intersect. more...


Intelligence Analyses Division4

RADM Richard B. Porterfield, Director
IAD, the Intelligence Analyses Division, supports the Department of Defense and the intelligence community by providing analyses of critical intelligence issues affecting national security. more...


Joint Advanced Warfighting Division4

Dr. Daniel Chiu, Director
The Joint Advanced Warfighting Division (JAWD) focuses helping meet the needs of the joint force commander, and in particular of the future joint force commander.  As such, JAWD researchers are transitioning from support for the war to support for the new overarching concept for joint operations. more...


Operational Evaluation Division4

Mr. Robert R. Soule, Director
The Operational Evaluation Division (OED) provides rigorous and technical analytical support to the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) and its mission to conduct independent assessments of the military services’ test and evaluation of new weapons systems. more...


Science and Technology Division4

Dr. Leonard J. Buckley, Director
The Science and Technology Division (STD) provides clear, concise and objective advice on science and technology issues related to national security.  STD scientists and engineers help define the science and technology problem then apply insightful analytic skills to develop practical, cost-effective solutions. more...


Strategy, Forces and Resources Division4

Mr. John Harvey, Director
The Strategy, Forces and Resources Division (SFRD) conducts integrated, interdisciplinary studies of broad defense policy and long-range planning related to national strategy, organization, and management process issues. more...


System Evaluation Division4

Dr. Steve Warner, Director
The Systems Evaluation Division (SED) provides a wide range independent system evaluations, system trade studies and technology integration, and special system studies for a diverse sponsor base within the Department of Defense (DoD). more...



Research and Analytical Capabilities

SAC maintains a flat organizational structure, with the directors of each of its eight research divisions, listed below, being responsible to IDA’s President for sustaining needed research capabilities and for producing high-quality and timely analyses.

Kevin Woods, JAWD, 2011 Welch Award Winner, discusses his book,

While each division has unique lines of research and expertise, sponsor problems often cut across division lines, resulting in the frequent assembly of cross-division teams that bring together interdisciplinary skills and diverse experiences to address national security challenges.

SAC research teams provide the best possible answers to sponsor questions, within the time and resources available. Their common goal is to improve government decision-making.


Initially, SAC focused on analyzing weapons systems, tactical doctrine, and force structure issues. Over succeeding decades, SAC’s research capabilities broadened to meet the evolving needs of its sponsors. Today, SAC blends expertise in technologies and systems with deep knowledge of costs, policies, human capital, intelligence and sponsor operations and organizations. Its contributions can be grouped as follows: