Forces and Resources Policy Center

Newly-promoted petty officers aboard the USS George Washington

Newly-promoted petty officers aboard the USS George Washington

Photo courtesy U.S. Navy

About FRP

The NSRD Forces and Resources Policy Center (FRP) helps improve policy and decision making governing personnel management and use of defense resources to enhance readiness and sustain the nation's all volunteer force.

FRP's history dates to the beginning of the all-volunteer force nearly 40 years ago. The Center has been a major source of analysis on issues relating to the creation and sustainment of an all-volunteer military.

FRP also conducts analyses to improve policy and decision making for allied nations related to defense manpower and for other U.S. government agencies related to human capital strategy, management, and policy evaluation.

FRP's research today explores four dimensions of defense policy:

  • Force management, to include manpower requirements and policies and programs governing accession, compensation, and personnel management of active and reserve component military members, government civilians, and contractors. This domain includes diversity management.
  • Readiness, to include readiness programs and readiness measurement, training infrastructure and unit and individual training programs, language and culture capabilities, resilience, family readiness, medical readiness, and force health protection and safety (including suicide prevention, substance abuse prevention, and sexual assault prevention).
  • Support programs and services for active and reserve military members and families, DoD government civilians and families, and veterans and military retirees. This includes quality of life programs, child care services, commissaries and exchanges, spouse and family employment, tuition assistance and education, DoD schools, transition assistance programs, and employer and community relations, as applicable.
  • Health services and systems, including the organization and delivery of physical and behavioral health care for TRICARE beneficiaries, health benefit design, medical resourcing methods, medical support to military operations, wounded warrior care, and disability evaluation.

The Center's sponsors have included the offices of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology), OSD/Cost Analysis and Policy Evaluation, the Joint Staff, the Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the Intelligence Community.

Research Topics

Force Management

Are current systems for managing military and civilian personnel attracting and retaining the best and brightest people? Should current approaches for accessing, promoting, retaining, and separating people across the life cycle change; if so, how? Should elements of current military compensation for active and reserve component personnel be changed to attract and retain individuals possessing skills that are high in demand in the civilian sector? How should recent changes to military compensation and retirement enacted in law be implemented most effectively? How should specialized civilian defense workforces, to include the civilian acquisition workforce and members of the cyber and STEM communies, be managed and sustained to accomplish critical missions at high levels of performance in the face of budget pressure? How should the workforce be structured and managed to provide for most efficient assignment of tasks to military personnel, government civilians, and contractors? How can DoD improve demographic diversity in key workforces—e.g., among science, technology, engineering, and math professionals? Now that restrictions on women serving in combat positions have been lifted, what will be the effects?


How should military forces be best configured and trained to ensure readiness and meet future requirements with a broader mission set and smaller forces? Can force readiness be measured more accurately and sensitively across the Joint Force? What is the right mix of active and reserve forces and allocation of capabilities between them? What will be the role of the reserve component forces in the future? Can reserve forces remain "operational," and how should reserve component units be trained and made ready to deploy? What can be done to ensure future adaptability and to preserve hard-won niche capabilities developed in recent operations? How can DoD and the services enhance the resilience of service members and other defense personnel, along with the resilience of their families; and prevent behaviors detrimental to health and safety? What should be done to best prevent and respond to sexual assault, sexual harassment, and hazing in the military? What new programs and policies are needed to ensure a comprehensive suicide prevention strategy across the department? What promising practices can be adapted to prevent and manage prescription drug misuse among military personnel?

Support Programs and Services

Are in-kind benefits such as housing, child care, education, spouse and family employment, and quality-of-life programs meeting needs, achieving desired outcomes, and being delivered cost-effectively? Which family support programs are effective at improving resilience and achieve other positive outcomes within military families? What can be done to continue to improve reintegration within families and communities following deployment, separation from service, or (among reservists) demobilization and return to the civilian labor market? What support programs best address the needs of caregivers of wounded service members? As the military downsizes, what can be done to assist departing service members in accomplishing a successful transition to the civilian labor market?

Health Services and Systems

As DoD strives to achieve cost savings and greater efficiency, what measures will be required to ensure that there are no changes to beneficiaries’ access to high-quality, safe, effective care? What effects would benefit changes have on costs to DoD and to beneficiaries and on the retention of military personnel? How can DoD ensure the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of care in its in-house MHS and in its purchased care sectors? Are adjustments needed to programs of health care available to reserve component members to enhance their medical readiness? As DoD reshapes the force and draws down troops, will the medical system have the right structure and resources to support future military operations and also meet the health care needs of beneficiaries? What are the implications for the MHS workforce? For example, what should the size and composition of the MHS be to meet the demands on it across the quadruple aim (readiness, population health, experience of care, and per-capita cost)? Are the programs DoD has implemented to support psychological health and traumatic brain injury providing high-quality treatment and improving outcomes for service members, veterans, and their families, including those who are geographically distant from mental health services? More specifically, are these efforts effective, and do they have the desired impact? Are efforts to reduce stigma associated with seeking mental health services working? Does the disability evaluation system for psychological health conditions affect diagnostic practices or treatment response? What clinical interventions are effective enough to be included in revised clinical practice guidelines?

Inquiries about the Forces and Resources Policy Center or its activities can be directed to:

John Winkler
Director, Forces and Resources Policy Center
RAND Corporation
1200 South Hayes Street
Arlington, VA 22202-5050
(703) 413-1100 x5511