William Shelton

Photo of William Shelton
Senior Engineer
Washington Office


M.S. in aero/astro engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology; B.S. in aero/astro engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


William Shelton is a senior engineer at the RAND Corporation. His research has covered such topics as accelerating Air Force acquisition programs, the reorganization of Air Force Material Command, how to improve the Air Force's development and implementation of large scale Enterprise Resource Planning programs, and how to improve the acquisition process for the US Space Force.

After retiring from the Air Force in 2007, he worked in industry and government prior to joining RAND. During his Air Force career he worked on tactical aircraft (F-16, F-22, Joint Strike Fighter), command and control (Link 16), and missile defense (C2 Battle Management and Communications). While on active duty, Shelton served in the Department of State in Defense Trade Controls as an expert on export controls and the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR). He also had Air Staff and intelligence tours as well as a RAND Air Force Fellowship.

He has a B.S. in aeronautics/astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.S. in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.

Recent Projects

  • Early Indicators of Relative Contractor Performance Risk for Air Force Acquisition
  • Business Process Review of Mission Support Functions
  • Identifying Savings in the Conduct of AT&L Business Areas
  • Alternative Space Architectures: Better Leveraging Commercial Space and the Effect of Delayed New Starts
  • A Clean Sheet Approach to Space Acquisition in Light of the New Space Force

Selected Publications

Gilmore, J. Michael, Shelton, William L., Harting, Sarah, Estimating Potential Savings in Department of Defense Activities, (RR-2329-OSD), 2019

Harting, Sarah, Shelton, William L., Anton, Philip S., Blickstein, Irv, Brauner, Marygail K., Lachman, Beth E., Moore, Nancy Y., Conley, Tim, Smith, Meagan L., Lewis, Austin, Unconstrained Ideas and Savings Initiatives for the Department of Defense in Three Areas: Acquisition and Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain, and Real Property Management, (RP-3621-OSD), 2018

Anton, Philip S., Conley, Tim, Blickstein, Irv, Lewis, Austin, Shelton, William L., Harting, Sarah, Baselining Defense Acquisition, (RP-3611-OSD), 2018

Snyder, Don et al., Assessment of the Air Force Materiel Command Reorganization National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, RAND Corporation (RR-389-AF), 2013

Riposo, Jessie et al., Improving Air Force Enterprise Resource Planning-enabled Business Transformation, RAND Corporation (RR-250-AF), 2013

Huber, Arthur et al., The Virtual Combat Air Staff: The Promise of Information Technologies, RAND Corporation (MR-759-AF), 1996

William Shelton, Cynthia R. Cook, Charlie Barton, Frank Camm, Kelly Elizabeth Eusebi, Diana Gehlhaus, Moon Kim, Yool Kim, Megan McKernan, Sydne, Newberry, Colby P. Steiner, A Clean Sheet Approach to Space Acquisition in Light of the New Space Force, (RR-A541-1), 2021


  • Fully armed aircraft from the 18th Wing conduct an elephant walk during an exercise at Kadena Air Base, Japan, April 12, 2017, photo by SrA John Linzmeier/U.S. Air Force

    Building Better Government Acquisition Programs: Q&A with William Shelton

    In the U.S. Air Force, William Shelton managed hundreds of millions of dollars in acquisition programs. He retired as a colonel then joined RAND as an engineer. One of his recent projects provided the U.S. Space Force with a new approach to acquisition, designed around its unique mission.

    Mar 4, 2022

  • U.S. soldiers fire an M777A2 Howitzer weapons system during an artillery demonstration near Rose Barracks, Germany, July 24, 2015

    Multiple Factors Drive Program Success

    Congress continues to express concerns about weapon system cost growth and is considering multiple acquisition reform proposals for the National Defense Authorization Act. One proposal would hold program managers accountable via a “performance agreement” for key parameters that must be met.

    Sep 30, 2015 Defense News