CNA's approach to research is a modern iteration of the Newtonian principle that complex, dynamic processes are best understood through direct observation of events and people.
That was the methodology CNA analysts first applied in the 1940s when they pioneered the field of operations research by helping the Navy address the German U-boat threat. Not content to study the problem from afar, this small group of MIT scientists insisted on deploying with Navy forces in order to observe operations and collect the data needed for meaningful analyses. Their groundbreaking work, and the anti-submarine warfare equations it produced, set a standard for operations research methods that CNA has maintained for 75 years.
Today, with more than 500 professionals at our headquarters and 50 researchers in the field, CNA still takes a multi-disciplinary, real-world approach to our work. On-site analysts carefully observe all aspects of a process—people, decisions, actions, consequences—and then collaborate with a headquarters-based research team to assess data and arrive at findings.
CNA's objective, empirical research and analysis helps decision makers develop sound policies, make better-informed decisions, and manage programs more effectively. Our work, which in its early decades focused solely on defense-related matters, has grown to include investigation and analysis of a broad range of national security, defense, and public interest issues including education, homeland security and air traffic management. Through our Center for Naval Analyses and Institute for Public Research, we provide public-sector organizations with the tools they need to tackle the complex challenges of making government more efficient and keeping our country safe and strong.