60 Ways RAND Has Made a Difference
In 2008, the RAND Corporation celebrated its 60th anniversary. The difference between RAND today and the organization that was created in 1948 is substantial and dramatic. Most notably, we started with one client — the U.S. Air Force. Over the past six decades, we've enjoyed productive relationships with thousands of clients. Today, RAND's analytic expertise is uniquely broad: Sixty Ways RAND Has Made a Difference illustrates some of the countless ways that RAND has helped to improve policy and decisionmaking in education, health care, civil and criminal justice, science and technology, national security, and other areas of concern — in the United States and throughout the world.
The mix of studies, singular accomplishments, and streams of research and analysis included in this book exemplifies the range and originality of RAND research. The selections are listed in no particular order and are by no means the only 60 ways — and not necessarily the 60 most important ways — that RAND has made a difference. But they reflect the breadth of our increasingly diversified organization, and they reveal a common motif: our ability to have a positive effect on the world by applying rigorous and objective analysis to challenging problems. That aspiration has guided RAND ever since it was established.
RAND's 60 years have been distinguished by an impressive number of prominent, even famous, experts in various fields, including winners of the Nobel Prize in several disciplines. But RAND's greatest strength has always been in numbers and breadth, as in the number of experts brought into the analysis of an issue and the breadth of their training, expertise, and experiences. RAND's best work is carried out by teams. The thousands of RAND's contributors are memorialized in the bylines of more than 20,000 books, reports, articles, and papers published over the past 60 years. For that reason, few individual names appear in the descriptions of Sixty Ways RAND Has Made a Difference, and those that do are there because the narrative would not make sense without them.
Major breakthroughs usually cannot be seen as such until so much history has passed that lots of other people have long since taken or been given credit. And most of the time, RAND is not solely responsible for making the difference but is, rather, one of a number of forces advancing a policy discussion. But that is where RAND's reputation for quality and objectivity matters all the more: The contribution is often a matter of offering the analysis that, over time, stands up best to scrutiny and “push-back” and ends up carrying the day.
In the early days of RAND, much of our research was not widely available. This created an unfortunate air of mystery about RAND and a sense of inaccessibility regarding this endeavor called “public policy research.” Today, RAND seeks to demystify; to have a distinct, reputable, and reliable voice in the policy debate; to make our findings public by posting our publications online, free and accessible to all. If you take one thing away from this book, perhaps it will be this: Public policy need not be inaccessible. It is about real people, real places, real organizations, real solutions. Whether the research is about health insurance or workers' compensation or counterinsurgency, it is work that seeks to have a lasting positive effect on you, your family, your community, and your country.
In assembling this collection, we have enjoyed reflecting on various aspects of our legacy. We hope you enjoy it.
James A. Thomson President and Chief Executive Officer
Michael D. Rich Executive Vice President