Susan M. Gates

Susan M. Gates
Director, Office of Research Quality Assurance; Senior Economist; Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in economic analysis and policy, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University; M.A. in Russian and Eastern European studies, Stanford University; A.B. in mathematical economics, Brown University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Susan M. Gates is director of the Office of Research Quality Assurance, a senior economist at RAND, and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Her research applies insights about the economics of organizations, personnel economics, and labor economics to address challenges facing public and private sector organizations and to advance workforce development, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Gates is an experienced project leader and manager. Her current research focuses on the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition workforce, how public school districts prepare, manage, and support leaders, and the efforts of local governments to promote entrepreneurship. Prior research addressed health care innovation, the military child care system, and a wide range of defense workforce and management issues. Her published research appears in numerous RAND reports as well as in external publications such as the Economics of Education Review, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Risk and Insurance, Public Administration Review, Managerial and Decision Economics, ERS Spectrum, and Armed Forces and Society.

As the director of RAND's Office of Research Quality Assurance, Gates supports the achievement of RAND's Standards for High-Quality and Objective Reserach and Analysis by maintaining a strong culture of quality along with supportive policies and processes. 

Gates received her Ph.D. in economics from Stanford Graduate School of Business and her M.A. in Russian and Eastern European studies from Stanford University. 

Previous Positions

Consultant, Center for International Security and Arms Control on Industrial Restructuring and the Political Economy in Russia, Stanford University

Recent Projects

  • Defense Acquisition Workforce Analysis
  • Reserve Component Employer Experiences Study
  • Evaluation of the Principal Pipeline Initiative
  • Survey of District Principal Pipeline Efforts

Selected Publications

Gates, Susan M., Matthew Baird, Benjamin K. Master and Emilio R. Chavez-Herrerias, Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools, RAND (RR-2666), 2019

Gates, Susan M., Julia H. Kaufman, Sy Doan, Andrea Prado Tuma and Deborah Kim , Taking Stock of Principal Pipelines: What Public School Districts Report Doing and What They Want to Do to Improve School Leadership., RAND (RR-A-274-1), 2020

Gates, Susan M., Elizabeth A. Roth and Jonas Kempf, Department of Defense Acquisition Workforce Analyses: Update to Methods and Results through FY 2021. , RAND (RR-A758-2-OSD), 2022

Gates, Susan M., Ashley Woo, Lea Xenakis, Elaine Lin Wang, Rebecca Herman, Megan Andrew and Ivy Todd , Using State-Level Policy Levers to Promote Principal Quality: Lessons from Seven States Partnering with Principal Preparation Programs and Districts. , RAND (RR-A-413-1), 2020

Susan M. Gates et al., "Mobility and Turnover Among School Principals," Economics of Education Review, 25(3), 2006

Fairlie, Robert W., Kanika Kapur and Susan M. Gates, "Is employer-based health insurance a Barrier to Entrepreneurship?" Journal of Health Economics, 30(1), 2011

Susan M. Gates and Kristin J. Leuschner, Eds., In the Name of Entrepreneurship? : The Logic and Effects of Special Regulatory Treatment for Small Business, RAND (MG-663), 2008

Dominic J. Brewer, Susan M. Gates and Charles Goldman, In Pursuit of Prestige: Strategy and Competition in U.S. Higher Education, Transaction Press, 2006

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: CPRE Knowledge Hub; Marketplace


  • Principals

    For Teachers, a Good Boss Makes All the Difference

    Districts that try to place an effective leader in every school could reap educational benefits in the classroom. Giving a teacher a good boss also could be a powerful element in a broader strategy to recruit and retain highly effective educators.

    Apr 4, 2019

    The 74 Million

  • Principals

    How States and Districts Can Leverage the Every Student Succeeds Act to Improve School Leadership

    The Every Student Succeeds Act provides states and districts with new chances to invest in school leadership. A review of interventions can serve as a starting point to enact relevant solutions and build the evidence base for what works.

    Dec 12, 2016

    The RAND Blog

  • Principals

    Improving School Leadership: What Works

    There is evidence that having strong school leaders is instrumental for improving the quality of teaching. But resource constraints and pressure to spend money directly on students have left interventions focused on principals largely overlooked. However, the new Every Student Succeeds Act may be changing the script.

    Apr 28, 2016

    The RAND Blog

  • Principals

    A Principal Role in Education

    Principals are second only to teachers as the most important school factor affecting student achievement, but their contributions are often underappreciated. They establish a vision that motivates the entire community, build a school culture that supports student learning, ensure resources are used effectively, and engage with the community.

    Nov 26, 2014

    The RAND Blog

  • Pharmaceutical Drugs

    What Drives the Market for Orphan Drugs?

    The 1983 Orphan Drug Act appears to be successful in promoting development of new treatments for relatively rare conditions. But an unintended consequence of its success is the high cost of specialty drugs.

    May 14, 2014

    The RAND Blog