Mark V. Arena

Photo of Mark Arena
Senior Physical Scientist
Off Site Office


Ph.D. in physical chemistry, Stanford University; B.S. in chemistry, Yale University


Mark V. Arena is a senior physical scientist at RAND who has worked on a variety of research projects for the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard; the Office of the Secretary of Defense; the Australian DoD; and the UK MoD. Some of Arena's recent research includes a study of other transaction use in the U.S. Air Force, bid protests of DoD procurements; shipbuilding capabilities and costs for Australia; cost assurance for maritime programs in Australia; “framing assumptions” as a way to track program risk; drivers of the long-term price changes for ships and fixed-wing aircraft; an evaluation of cost-risk assessment methodologies; and the historical cost growth of major weapon systems. Arena has also developed analytical models to understand the shipyard and budget impacts of various force structure choices and procurement plans. Another of Arena's recent research activity is developing cost estimate validation methods for public assistance grants.

Arena graduated from Yale University with a B.S. degree in chemistry. Subsequently, he pursued graduate studies at Stanford University in the Department of Chemistry. His thesis work focused on the diffusion of molecular adsorbates on single-crystal metal surfaces. He was granted a Ph.D. in physical chemistry.

Selected Publications

Mark V. Arena, Brian Persons, Irv Blickstein, Mary E. Chenoweth, Gordon T. Lee, David Luckey, Abby Schendt, Assessing Bid Protests of U.S. Department of Defense Procurements: Identifying Issues, Trends, and Drivers, RAND Corporation (RR-2356), 2018

Mark V. Arena et al., Impossible Certainty: Cost Risk Analysis for Air Force Systems, RAND Corporation (MG-415-AF), 2006

Mark V. Arena et al., Monitoring the Progress of Shipbuilding Programmes: How Can the Defence Procurement Agency More Accurately Monitor Progress?RAND Corporation (MG-235-MOD), 2005

Mark V. Arena et al., The United Kingdom's Naval Shipbuilding Industrial Base: The Next Fifteen Years, RAND Corporation (MG-294-MOD), 2005

Mark V. Arena et al., Why Has the Cost of Navy Ships Risen? A Macroscopic Examination of the Trends in U.S. Naval Ship Costs over the Past Several Decades, RAND Corporation (MG-484-NAVY), 2005

Mark V. Arena et al., Historical Cost Growth of Completed Weapon System Programs, RAND Corporation (TR-343-AF), 2002


  • Tool

    Identifying Acquisition Framing Assumptions Through Structured Deliberation

    This report documents the structured process that was developed to help project teams identify acquisition framing assumptions, which are useful in defining and tracking key program assumptions throughout the life of an acquisition program.

    Dec 4, 2014

  • Tool

    An Excel Tool to Assess Acquisition Program Risk

    Presents the users' manual for the Assessor Tool, an Excel information-based risk tool designed to assist the U.S. Department of Defense acquisition community in assessing weapon systems in accordance with the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act.

    Oct 31, 2013

  • Report

    Historical Cost Growth of Completed Weapon System Programs

    Our analysis shows that the Department of Defense (DoD) and the military departments have generally underestimated the cost of buying new weapon systems and that the growth is larger than previously thought.

    Jul 12, 2006