International, Foreign Affairs, and National Security

The Center for Advanced Defense Studies

aka C4ADS

Washington, DC


C4ADS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting on global conflict and transnational security issues.

We use cutting-edge technologies to manage, integrate, and analyze disparate data from diverse languages, regions, and sources, incorporating our own field research from conflict zones and fragile states. We seek to engage with local and international audiences and produce compelling analysis on conflict and security issues. In doing so, we fill a critical gap left by traditional public sector and profit-driven institutions.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

David Johnson

Main Address

1100 H St NW Suite 750

Washington, DC 20005 USA


Security, Defense, Counter-Terrorism, Peace, Innovation





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

International Peace and Security (Q40)

Domestic National Security (includes Military and Defense Issues) (Q43)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (R05)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

C4ADS aims to address the global threats posed by illicit networks and transnational organized crime. This threat takes many forms, from the poaching and sale of illegal ivory and illicit arms shipments to Syria, to human trafficking in the fishery sector and North Korean overseas business networks, to name but a few. While the problem set is vast, we take on projects through which we believe we can add unique insight and have a strong impact.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Environmental Crimes Fusion Cell

Threat Finance Cell

Kleptocracy Cell

Where we workNew!

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Number of list subscribers

Population(s) served


Number of unique website visitors

Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Number of reports written/published

Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

We aim to expose and disrupt the activities of illicit networks around the world.

We take a variety of approaches to disrupting illicit networks with the goal of providing actionable information to global policymakers.

We start by asking questions and challenging assumptions about the issues we look at, and our research has often had surprising results. From the vulnerability of North Korean business networks to the links between fish swim bladder smuggling and drug cartels, we have time and again found that open data research can have a powerful impact on illicit networks around the world.

We work with a wide variety of local and international organizations to ensure that our research makes its way to those who can best use it to disrupt the actors we investigate.

We conduct open source research on a variety of issues directly tied to illicit networks. Our approach to open source research is somewhat unique; we use a vast array of sources, such as public records, social media, and shipping databases.

We use the foreign language and travel experience of our analysts to find and use data that others have not previously been able to access.

We have developed unique methods of analyzing the data we collect that have proven successful across a wide array of issues, and we continually hone these methods as we are able to access new datasets and use innovative tech platforms.

There are many ways in which we measure success across all of the different issues we are currently working on. Through reports that we publish and media coverage of those reports, we aim to increase awareness and elevate the public understanding of illicit networks and how they operate around the world.

We also hope to affect systemic change by providing training to other non-governmental organizations, as well as some law enforcement agencies, and the opportunity to conduct this training is another measure of progress for us.

Additionally, we release public reports from time to time that highlight changes that others can make to have a greater impact on illicit networks, and so seeing those steps implemented is another measure of success for our organization.

We have published reports on a number of illicit networks and related issues recently. We will continue to publish on a wide array of issues in order to build the public understanding of this type of research and general understanding of these issues.

We hope to continue to grow as an organization in order to conduct research on an even wider range of topics related to illicit networks around the world and to be able to impact them similarly.

External Reviews


The Center for Advanced Defense Studies

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Need more info on this nonprofit?

Need more info on this nonprofit?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to view a Sample Report.


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?