Megan McKernan

Megan McKernan
Senior Defense Researcher; Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Pittsburgh Office


M.A. in international trade and investment policy, George Washington University; B.A. in economics, William Smith College

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

More Experts


Megan McKernan is a senior defense researcher at RAND and a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She specializes in Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition of weapon systems along with acquisition data governance, management, sharing, and analytics. She has also conducted analysis in a wide variety of defense acquisition-related areas including: Space and Cyber rapid acquisition; software acquisition; requirements planning; acquisition program office structure; identifying acquisition metrics; contractor performance; Navy innovation and rapid development; prototyping; industrial base considerations; earned value management; tailoring acquisition; program manager tenure; program framing assumptions; rapid acquisition; analysis of root causes of Nunn-McCurdy Unit Cost Breaches; acquisition program cancelations; schedule growth; acquisition knowledge management; and other program-specific analyses. She uses a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods in conducting research including case studies, logic models, maturity models, policy reviews, data collection and analysis, interviews, and literature reviews.

Prior to working at RAND, McKernan was an economic analyst for four years providing reports for policymakers, primarily at the National Security Council, Department of Treasury, and Department of State on global economic issues with a concentration on emerging market countries. She holds an M.A. in international trade and investment policy from George Washington University and a B.A. in economics from William Smith College.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Recent Projects

  • Updating Space Acquisition in Light of the New Space Force
  • Identification and Characterization of Program Data for Acquisition Category (ACAT) II and III, Pre-MDAPs, and Business Systems
  • Supporting Prototyping Execution
  • Policy Implications on the Management and Access of Acquisition Data
  • Tailoring: Practical and Possible?

Selected Publications

Drezner, Jeffrey A., Jon Schmid, Justin Grana, Megan McKernan, and Mark Ashby, Benchmarking Data Use and Analytics in Large, Complex Private-Sector Organizations: Implications for Department of Defense Acquisition, RAND Corporation (RR-A225-1), 2020

Anton, Philip S., Megan McKernan, Ken Munson, James G. Kallimani, Alexis Levedahl, Irv Blickstein, Jeffrey A. Drezner, and Sydne J. Newberry, Assessing the Use of Data Analytics in Department of Defense Acquisition, RAND Corporation (RB-10085-OSD), 2019

McKernan, Megan, Jessie Riposo, Geoffrey McGovern, Douglas Shontz, and Badreddine Ahtchi, Issues with Access to Acquisition Data and Information in the Department of Defense: Considerations for Implementing the Controlled Unclassified Information Reform Program, RAND Corporation (RR-2221-OSD), 2018

McKernan, Megan, Nancy Young Moore, Kathryn Connor, Mary E. Chenoweth, Jeffrey A. Drezner, James Dryden, Clifford A. Grammich, Judith D. Mele, Walter T. Nelson, Rebeca Orrie, Douglas Shontz, and Anita Szafran, Issues with Access to Acquisition Data and Information in the Department of Defense: Doing Data Right in Weapon System Acquisition, RAND Corporation (RR-1534-OSD), 2017

McKernan, Megan, Jeffrey A. Drezner, and Jerry M. Sollinger, Tailoring the Acquisition Process in the U.S. Department of Defense, RAND Corporation (RR-966-OSD), 2015

Riposo, Jessie, Megan McKernan, Jeffrey A. Drezner, Geoffrey McGovern, Daniel Tremblay, Jason Kumar, and Jerry M. Sollinger, Issues with Access to Acquisition Data and Information in the Department of Defense: Policy and Practice, RAND Corporation (RR-880-OSD), 2015

Kavanagh, Jennifer, Megan McKernan, Kathryn Connor, Abby Doll, Jeffrey A. Drezner, Kristy N. Kamarck, Katherine Pfrommer, Mark V. Arena, Irv Blickstein, William Shelton, and Jerry M. Sollinger, Joint Precision Approach and Landing System Nunn-McCurdy Breach Root Cause Analysis and Portfolio Assessment Metrics for DoD Weapons Systems, Volume 8, RAND Corporation (MG-1171/8-OSD), 2015

Jessie Riposo, Megan McKernan, Chelsea Kaihoi, Prolonged Cycle Times and Schedule Growth in Defense Acquisition: A Literature Review, RAND (RR-455), 2014

Honors & Awards

  • RAND Bronze Medal (2018); RAND Spotlight Award (2015); RAND Impact Award (2011); and RAND Merit Bonus Team-Player Award (2007), RAND
  • Recipient of Full-tuition Fellowship for Master's Degree at The George Washington University - 1997, Wolcott Foundation
  • Recipient of a Foreign Language Study Grant and an Internship Grant at The Elliott School of International Affairs - 1999, The George Washington University