About IDA

The Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) is a private, nonprofit corporation headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. IDA’s mission is to answer the most challenging U.S. security and science policy questions with objective analysis leveraging extraordinary scientific, technical, and analytic expertise.


IDA manages three Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs):

  • IDA Systems and Analyses Center (SAC). The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) sponsors SAC—the first and largest FFRDC IDA manages. Collocated with IDA corporate headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, SAC traces its roots back to 1956, when IDA was formed. The length of the association between IDA and OSD speaks to the mutual trust inherent to the relationship.
  • IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI). The National Science Foundation sponsors STPI. Located in Washington, DC, STPI primarily supports the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President. This FFRDC’s focus is on supporting policymakers with objective analyses on matters of scientific and technological importance to the government.
  • IDA Center for Communications and Computing. The National Security Agency sponsors the Center for Communications and Computing, which comprises three centers located in Princeton, New Jersey (established in 1959); Bowie, Maryland (established in 1985); and La Jolla, California (established in 1989). This IDA FFRDC focuses on development of innovative technology solutions to complicated mathematical and computational problems in cryptology, which includes both foreign signals intelligence and protecting the communications of the U.S. Government.

Sponsors rely on IDA’s FFRDCs for dispassionate, fact-based, and scientifically rigorous research and advice performed in a research environment free of commercial or shareholder interests where objectivity and the public interest are foremost.

The work produced by IDA’s FFRDCs is characterized by unquestioned objectivity and high quality. Because of our unique relationship with our U.S. Government sponsors, IDA enjoys unusual access to classified government information and sensitive corporate proprietary information. We adhere to a strict regime for avoiding conflicts of interest. We are thus in the position of offering outsider perspectives on important issues with insider access to information.

team meeting
woman exhibiting analytical skills
IDA staff in theatre discussing the 2004 Battle of Fallujah with Iraqi commandoes

Guiding Principles

Rigorous Analysis

Our findings and conclusions arise directly from the results of technically exacting and data-driven analyses. By holding ourselves to this high standard, our sponsors can trust the accurate, in-depth, and objective information we deliver to them.

Trusted Expertise

We are devoted to honesty, professionalism, and ethical conduct. We do and say what’s right, even when it isn’t easy. We work closely with our sponsors to make our analyses relevant, responsive, and timely. We report the truth revealed in data and our analyses. We are vigilant in protecting ourselves and our institution from any conflict of interest – real or perceived – that might impugn our research results and preclude these truths from informing public policy discourse.


We embrace differences. We celebrate the inherent value of a team diverse in thought, experience, and demographics.


We maximize the value of different perspectives, backgrounds, and ideas of multi-disciplinary, high-performance teams. Unified by our commitment to a common goal, we surpass what would have been accomplished individually.


We are a learning organization – learning from each other, our peers, outside experts, and those we serve to create and improve the capabilities, methods, and approaches used in our work.

Service to the Nation

We exist to inform our Nation’s leaders as they confront the most challenging U.S. security and science policy challenges.


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