Whiz Kids (Department of Defense)

Whiz Kids was a name given to a group of experts from RAND Corporation with which Robert McNamara surrounded himself in order to turn around the management of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) in the 1960s. The purpose was to shape a modern defense strategy in the Nuclear Age by bringing in economic analysis, operations research, game theory, computing, as well as implementing modern management systems to coordinate the huge dimension of operations of the DoD with methods such as the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System (PPBS). They were called the Whiz Kids recalling the group at Ford Motor Company that McNamara was part of a decade earlier. The group included (among others):

  • Harold Brown
  • Alain Enthoven
  • Steven Fenster
  • Patrick Gross
  • William Kaufmann
  • Jan Lodal
  • Howard Margolis
  • Frank Nicolai
  • Merton Joseph Peck
  • Charles O. Rossotti
  • Henry Rowen
  • John H. Rubel
  • Ivan Selin
  • Pierre Sprey
  • Adam Yarmolinsky
  • Richard Zeckhauser


  • 1962 Time article on the Whiz Kids
  • Steven R. Fenster New York Times obituary

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