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What is CNA?

Q&A

What is CNA?
CNA is an independent, nonprofit research and analysis organization dedicated to the safety and security of the nation. For 80 years, our scientific rigor and real-world approach to data has been indispensable to leaders facing complex problems. CNA employs operations research to address military questions in the Center for Naval Analyses and domestic challenges in the Institute for Public Research.

What is operations research?
Operations research applies scientific measurement to data in order to improve the effectiveness of operators, whether those are troops, police, wardens or first responders. Rather than employing math and science to engineer a better aircraft carrier or body-worn camera, operations researchers apply their skills toward helping operators make better use of the technology they already have. Operations research in the United States was originated by Philip Morse, the founder of CNA, during World War II.

What is the Center for Naval Analyses? 
The Center for Naval Analyses informs the decisions of Navy, Marine Corps and DOD leaders. Our analysts have accompanied forces in every conflict since World War II and evaluate every major exercise. CNA’s unique Field Program embeds scientists in commands around the world. In recent decades, CNA analysts have earned nearly 100 military service awards. Our analytical expertise ranges from strategic competition to recruiting and fighter pilot tactics. The Center for Naval Analyses is the only FFRDC for Department of the Navy.

What is an FFRDC?
A federally funded research and development center, or FFRDC, is a research organization dedicated to the mission success of a particular government department or agency sponsor. FFRDCs have long-term relationships with their sponsors that allow them to develop deep expertise. They are also on-call with quick-response capability when speed is critical. There are 42 FFRDCs, and the Center for Naval Analyses is the oldest organization among them. Learn more about FFRDCs.

What is the Institute for Public Research? 
The Institute for Public Research, supports civilian government agencies in justice, public health, emergency response and other critical fields. Federal, state and local leaders rely on CNA’s independent analysis as they address their most difficult challenges, from eliminating racial bias in policing and to preparing responders for natural disasters and epidemics. The Institute for Public Research was founded more than 25 years ago, when researchers who had analyzed the airspace over carriers began to analyze the airspace over the entire United States for the FAA.

Who works for CNA?
The more than 500 analysts at CNA include a rich mix of mathematicians, engineers, physicists, chemists and economists. We also have specialists in international relations, homeland security, community safety, public health and data science. In the analytical staff, 90% have advanced degrees and 35% have military field analysis experience. Our commitment to equity is demonstrated in CEO Katherine McGrady’s participation in the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion and in employee grass roots involvement. Meet CNA’s leaders and experts