Santa Monica is constantly evolving, but RAND has remained a part of its landscape for over 60 years.
“Project RAND” was originally created at the request of Army Air Corps officials in 1945 to assist the U.S. military with the new technologies and strategies developed during World War II and to tackle future issues. It began in Santa Monica as a unit of the Douglas Aircraft Company and in May of 1948 RAND became an independent, non-profit located at 4th and Broadway.
In an interview with the Mirror, RAND Executive Vice President Michael Rich noted that since its inception the company has “remained a nonprofit institution dedicated to the public interest” by helping to improve decision – and policy-making through rigorous and objective research and analysis. However, Rich also commented that “the range of policy matters that we’ve addressed has changed dramatically over the years.”
According to Rich, one of the key public policy issues RAND is currently concentrating on is healthcare – improving access to it, making it more affordable, and improving its quality not only in the U.S. but also around the world. Another area of concentration is strengthening the national security of the U.S. This includes research on issues of geopolitics, military strategy, and the health and welfare of military personnel. Other areas currently being investigated include educational policy, transportation infrastructure, energy and environmental science, science and technology policy, child development, and civil and criminal justice.
Funding for RAND’s work comes from a variety of sources. About one-third comes from the request of clients, another third from clients to finance research that RAND researchers have come up with, and the final third from the collaborative process of discussing opportunities and problems with a variety of sources. Rich also mentioned that RAND also initiates research that is self-financed from its income from operations, donations, and an endowment created by past donors. This self-initiated research, according to Rich, “gives us the opportunity to study issues that might be too cross-cutting or maybe too controversial for clients.” Examples of such research are some of RAND’s work on terrorism and on how to ensure the success of an independent Palestinian state.
Rich also noted that over time “there has been a stronger demand for RAND’s research, not just from the federal government but also from state and local governments, private foundations, and even foreign governments. However, at the same time it’s gotten more challenging for RAND as a non-affiliated, non-partisan institution to carry out its mission as the political environment becomes more and more polarized.”
RAND has 1,700 employees, with about 1,200 of them working at their Main Street Santa Monica headquarters. The rest are scattered among their four other U.S. offices, two European offices, and an office in the Middle East. RAND’s Pardee Graduate School is also located at their Santa Monica location.
About 800 titles are published by RAND each year. They can be accessed by the public on their website, www.rand.org free of charge.