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Entry/Mid-level System Acquisition Researcher

RAND Corporation
Santa Monica, California
Closing date
Dec 21, 2022
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Job Details

RAND is seeking highly motivated researchers and experienced practitioners who would like to use their technical and domain expertise to directly impact government acquisition policy. The U.S. federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year to acquire and sustain systems that support our national and homeland security. RAND System Acquisition Researchers conduct research that informs the policies and decisions surrounding acquisition strategy and operations. They lead and contribute to multidisciplinary project teams to analyze acquisition policy problems where the technical details matter.

Acquisition research and analysis are carried out by four federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) that focus on U.S. national and homeland security policy issues. System Acquisition Researchers share and uphold RAND’s values to high-quality, rigorous analysis and objectivity, which has secured RAND's reputation for excellence and attracts studies that often pose novel challenges in analysis, modeling, research design, and computing. Researchers apply their skills in novel and flexible ways to emerging problems at the cutting edge of their fields and apply their insights to critical policy issues.


The System Acquisition Researcher will use their practical knowledge and experience in acquisition programs, coupled with their technical and methodological skills (e.g., in engineering, operations research, applied mathematics, and physical sciences) to:

  • Develop research approaches to solve complex government acquisition policy problems.

  • Execute this research using a broad range of analytically rigorous, quantitative and/or qualitative research tools, methods, and skills.

  • Interpret research results to support decision-making surrounding complex government acquisition policy problems.

  • Communicate acquisition research results to public policy makers at all levels through written products and oral presentations.


All research positions at RAND require excellent analytic skills; the ability to communicate clearly and effectively in English, both orally and in writing; the ability to work effectively as a member of a multi-disciplinary team; and a strong commitment to RAND's core values of quality and objectivity.

Successful applicants will have:

  • Demonstrated technical or methodological skills, and/or domain knowledge in one or more acquisition-related fields. Examples of these skills and knowledge include:

    • cost analysis

    • analyses of alternatives

    • business-case analyses

    • supply chain management

    • technology transition/transfer

    • model-based systems engineering

    • acquisition/procurement policy and statute (e.g., JCIDS, FAR, PPBE), and

    • acquisition lifecycle processes (e.g., requirements development; acquisition strategy; source selection; design, development, and integration; test and evaluation; and production).

  • Research experience applying these skills to acquisition problems in government, industry, and/or academia. This research experience will demonstrate the applicant’s ability to design, execute and disseminate results of research using analytically rigorous methods. Strong evidence of this research experience will be demonstrated through authorship of academic publications, conference presentations, or prior professional reports.

Education Requirements

A PhD with coursework or research relevant to government systems acquisition is preferred. Candidates with degrees in engineering, operations research, applied mathematics, and physical sciences are preferred. A minimum of a master’s degree and at least 5 years of relevant professional experience, or a bachelor’s degree with at least 10 years of relevant professional experience, is required, with a thesis or capstone project preferred. Candidates who do not meet the education/experience qualifications may qualify for the Entry/Mid-level Acquisition Analyst position which can be found on the RAND Careers website.


Successful applicants with more than 10 years of experience will have demonstrated leadership experience through the following activities: mentoring and developing junior staff members, leading and directing multi-disciplinary teams, setting project standards and monitoring progress, engaging with stakeholders, and communicating research results to the RAND community and to policy-making audiences.

As this is an early to mid-career level position, applicants with less than 15 years of professional experience are preferred.

Security Clearance

Candidates must be able to obtain and maintain a U.S. security clearance. Please note that U.S. citizenship is required to obtain and maintain a government security clearance


Santa Monica, CA; Washington, DC; Pittsburgh, PA; Boston, MA; Offsite work arrangements will be considered.

Application Materials

  • CV, cover letter, and a writing sample are required (PDF documents are preferred). A writing sample of 3 pages or more is required for this position. Applicants are encouraged to use recent pieces that have been published in academic or other journals but may use master’s theses or papers written for coursework, prior employment, or internships.

  • Successful applications will include documentation in the application package of academic and professional activities that meet stated qualifications.

  • Note that applicants invited to interview will be required to present a seminar describing recent research.

Application Review

Review of applications will be ongoing through the 12th of December 2022.


Equal Opportunity Employer: race/color/religion/sex/sexual orientation/gender identity/national origin/disability/vet


The RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous. RAND’s research and analysis address issues that impact people everywhere, including security, health, education, sustainability, growth, and development. Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, RAND has approximately 1,950 people from more than 50 countries working in offices in North America, Europe, and Australia, with annual revenues of more than $357 million.

RAND is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and committed to the public interest.  Our research is sponsored by government agencies, international organizations, and foundations. We rely on philanthropic support to pursue visionary ideas; address critical problems that are under-researched; and devise innovative approaches for solving acute, complex, or provocative policy challenges. RAND values objectivity and integrity in both its research processes and internal interactions. We emphasize a collegial environment that respects the contributions and dignity of all staff.

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