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.
IDA President Dr. Chu welcomes General Mark Walsh, USAF Chief of Staff.
IDA's Defense Science Study Group aboard an OSPREY MV-22 at Camp Lejeune.
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.
Research and Analytical Capabilities
SAC maintains a flat organizational structure, with the directors of each of its eight research divisions, listed to the right, 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, "The Saddam Tapes" at National Defense University.
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