IDA's History and Mission
More than 50 Years of Analytic Excellence
IDA traces its roots to 1947, when Secretary of Defense James Forrestal established the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group (WSEG) to provide technical analyses of weapons systems and programs. In the mid-1950s, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to form a civilian, nonprofit research institute. The Institute would operate under the auspices of a university consortium to attract highly qualified scientists to assist WSEG in addressing the nation's most challenging security problems.
Over the years, IDA has modified its structure to remain responsive to sponsor needs. In 1958, at the request of the Secretary of Defense, IDA established a division to support the newly created Advanced Research Projects Agency. Shortly thereafter, the mandate of this division was broadened to include scientific and technical studies for all offices of the Director of Defense, Research and Engineering. Subsequent divisions were established under what became IDA's primary research center - the Studies and Analyses Center - to provide cost analyses, computer software and engineering, strategy and force assessments, and operational test and evaluation. We created the Simulation Center in the early 1990s to focus on advanced distributed simulation, and most recently, established the Joint Advanced Warfighting Program to develop new operational concepts. IDA further broadened its scope to provide support to the National Security Agency under a new research center - the Centers for Communications and Computing - and, more recently in 2003, by assuming responsibility for what has become our third research center - the Science and Technology Policy Institute - which supports the Office of Science and Technology Policy for the Executive Office of the President.
Throughout its history, IDA also has assisted other federal agencies. Recent work includes research performed in support of the Department of Homeland Security, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Director of National Intelligence, and others.
IDA is a non-profit corporation that operates three federally funded research and development centers to provide objective analyses of national security issues, particularly those requiring scientific and technical expertise, and conduct related research on other national challenges.