Cynthia R. Cook

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Director, Acquisition and Technology Policy Center, RAND National Defense Research Institute; Senior Management Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Washington Office


Ph.D. in sociology, Harvard University; B.S. in management, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

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Cynthia Cook is director of the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center, part of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Since joining RAND in 1997, she has led and worked on a wide range of studies for the U.S. Air Force, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, and the UK Ministry of Defence on subjects including defense acquisition, cost analysis, the defense industrial base, aircraft production alternatives, aircraft sustainment, and contracting practices. She was formerly the associate director of Project AIR FORCE.

Prior to joining RAND, Cook was a research specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working on the Lean Aerospace Initiative. Before her graduate studies, she worked in New York as an investment banker, specializing in high-yield finance. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University and a B.S. in management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Previous Positions

Research Specialist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Recent Projects

  • Acquisition policy and cyber acquisition
  • Weapon systems sustainment, including contractor logistics support
  • Science and technology policy
  • Implementation of organizational change

Selected Publications

Michael Boito, Cynthia R. Cook, John C. Graser, Contractor Logistics Support in the U.S. Air Force, RAND Corporation (MG-779-AF), 2009

Obaid Younossi et al., Improving the Cost Estimation of Space Systems, RAND Corporation (MG-690-AF), 2008

Frank Camm, Cynthia R. Cook, Ralph Masi, Anny Wong, What the Army Needs to Know to Align Its Operational and Institutional Activities, RAND Corporation (MG-530-A), 2007

Cynthia R. Cook et al., Assembling and Supporting the Joint Strike Fighter in the UK: Issues and Costs, RAND Corporation (MR-1771-MOD), 2005

Mark A. Lorell et al., Price-Based Acquisition: Issues and Challenges for Defense Department Procurement of Weapons Systems, RAND Corporation (MG-337-AF), 2005

Cynthia R. Cook et al., Rethinking How the Air Force Manages Sustainment Surge, RAND Corporation (MG-372-AF), 2005

Honors & Awards

  • President's Award, RAND Corporation
  • Silver Medal Award, RAND Corporation