Michael D. Rich
Michael D. Rich's Speaking Fee Under $25,000

Michael D. Rich

Providing insight into the critical role of facts in U.S. public life and the challenges facing democracy. 

President and Chief Executive Officer, RAND Corporation

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Providing insight into the critical role of facts in U.S. public life and the challenges facing democracy. 

Michael D. Rich is president and chief executive officer of the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis. For more than 40 years, Rich has helped RAND become a leading source of expertise, analysis, and evidence-based ideas in an increasingly complex and polarized policymaking environment.

As president and CEO, Rich's focus is on extending the impact of RAND's work. He challenges the organization to broaden its legacy of innovation and strengthen the many ways RAND helps decisionmakers stay ahead of the curve on the issues that matter most. A champion of RAND's commitment to help improve the quality of decision-making, Rich coauthored a 2018 report titled Truth Decay, the first in an ongoing series of research projects and publications that examines how the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life has caused an erosion of civil discourse and political paralysis, among other problems.

In 2020, Rich spearheaded Tomorrow Demands Today, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in RAND's history. Philanthropic support enables RAND researchers and students at the Pardee RAND Graduate School to bring bold thinking, analytical rigor, and cross-cutting perspectives to the most critical issues of our time, such as those presented by the COVID-19 crisis.

Rich became president and CEO of RAND in 2011. He began his RAND career as a summer intern in 1975, joining the organization full-time the following year as a researcher focused on U.S. national security issues. He has served in a variety of senior leadership positions at RAND and was instrumental in the creation of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center that provides research and analysis to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the Intelligence Community. He also helped lead RAND's diversification and expansion into international markets—including Europe and Australia. Throughout his career, Rich has also been an enthusiastic supporter of Pardee RAND, the world's largest public policy Ph.D. program, where he teaches and advises graduate students and has chaired numerous committees. Rich serves on the governing boards and advisory committees of many policy and service organizations, including the Council for Aid to Education, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, WISE & Healthy Aging, the Everychild Foundation, Santa Monica–UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, and the UCLA Foundation. He is also a member of the U.S. Defense Science Board, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the California Bar. Rich received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and his J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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A Conversation with Rand Corporation President and CEO Michael D. Rich

A champion of the power of facts and objective analysis, Michael D. Rich has helped the nonpartisan, nonprofit RAND Corporation become a leading global source of expertise, analysis, and evidence-based ideas in an increasingly complex and polarized policymaking environment. Rich became president and CEO in 2011 and immediately focused the research organization on expanding the impact of its work and broadening its legacy of innovation, to help decisionmakers stay ahead of the curve on issues of today and tomorrow. Rich co-authored the acclaimed 2018 book titled “Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in Public Life,” which has since grown into a RAND research initiative to restore the role of facts and analysis in our society.

What Is “Truth Decay” and How We Can Counter It

American democracy faces a grave threat called “Truth Decay,” the diminishing reliance on facts and analysis in U.S. public discourse and policymaking. None of the complex challenges the United States faces – systemic inequality, health care, immigration -- can be solved if society as a whole cannot agree on a common set of facts. As we have seen with the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic, political paralysis that delays or interrupts key policy decisions can contribute to loss of life and economic hardship. The issue of climate change is another area where a failure to make policy based on facts and evidence could have already resulted in irreversible damage to the environment.  

Works by Michael D. Rich