About SAC

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Systems and Analyses Center

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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 nonprofit corporation. SAC traces its roots to 1956, when IDA was formed. Initially, the focus was on weapons systems, tactical doctrine, and force structure issues. Over succeeding decades, our research capabilities have broadened to meet the evolving needs of our government sponsors.

Today, SAC blends expertise in technologies and systems with deep knowledge of costs, policies, human capital, intelligence, advanced analytic methods, and sponsor organizations and processes.

Federal agency sponsors

SAC maintains an especially close relationship with its primary government sponsor, the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Other sponsors include the Joint Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Defense Agencies, and joint programs and activities. With the encouragement and approval of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, we also engage in FFRDC-appropriate research for other federal departments and agencies. Work for the military departments is also possible when circumstances mean that no conflict of interest will arise.

To guard objectivity and ensure freedom from conflicts of interest, SAC does not work for commercial firms, does not compete for federal contracts, and has no financial or other stake in the implementation of its findings. Our research products undergo a rigorous review process to verify the quality, independence and objectivity of the analyses they contain.

Experienced, interdisciplinary staff

The interdisciplinary research staff at SAC blends longstanding experience and current knowledge to provide both corporate memory and state-of-the-art expertise. More than 90% of the research staff have advanced degrees; over 55% have doctorates. About 70% of our researchers were educated in engineering, physical and life sciences, mathematics and statistics, and computer science; the remainder were educated in economics, political science, business, and other social sciences. We augment the talents of our regular staff with a deep bench of adjunct staff members and consultants with specialized expertise when needed.

IDA encourages all its staff to be active professionally to maintain currency and to promote career development. Thus, staff members are continually learning through engagement with each other, peers, outside experts and sponsors to improve the capabilities, methods and approaches used.

Types of contributions

SAC’s contributions to its sponsors fall into the following core areas:

  • Evaluating systems and acquisition management issues.
  • Providing technical and analytic support for testing.
  • Supporting operational and force planning.
  • Advancing cyber, data and information capabilities.
  • Evaluating intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; space; and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear issues.
  • Analyzing costs, resource allocation, and national security economic issues.
  • Evaluating science and technology issues and operational implications.
  • Assessing readiness, sustainment, training, education and personnel issues.
  • Evaluating institutions, management systems, processes and support issues.
  • Analyzing international issues and regional security matters.

Organizational structure

SAC comprises seven research divisions, listed below. Collectively, they are responsible for sustaining research capabilities and for producing timely, high-quality analyses for sponsors.

  • Cost Analysis and Research Division.
  • Global Dynamics and Intelligence Division.
  • Information Technology and Systems Division.
  • Joint Advanced Warfighting Division.
  • Operational Evaluation Division.
  • Science, Systems and Sustainment Division.
  • Strategy, Forces and Resources Division.

While each division has unique lines of research and expertise, sponsors’ issues often cut across division lines, necessitating assembly of cross-division teams that bring together individuals diverse in thought, experience and demographics. These research teams are able to provide the best possible solutions to sponsors’ national security challenges, within the time and resources available. The overriding goal is to improve government decision-making consistent with our core principles of providing rigorous analysis, trusted expertise, and service to the nation.

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