RAND Supply Chain Policy Center to Research Critical Issues in Freight Transportation

For Release

May 9, 2007

The RAND Corporation has created a research center to help the public and private sectors more effectively deal with some of the key challenges confronting worldwide freight transportation, RAND President and CEO James A. Thomson announced today.

“The RAND Supply Chain Policy Center will examine the critical issues facing the transportation and global logistics industries as companies work to move goods by land, sea and air in an increasingly complex global economy,” Thomson said.

Martin Wachs will serve as director of the RAND Supply Chain Policy Center, which will employ the expertise of researchers based at RAND headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., as well as offices in: Washington, D.C.; Pittsburgh, and Cambridge, U.K. Wachs is director of the RAND Transportation, Space and Technology Program.

Before joining RAND last year, Wachs was professor of civil and environmental engineering and city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley. He was director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at Berkeley for six years. He previously spent 25 years at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he served three terms as chairman of the Department of Urban Planning.

“Nearly everything we use and consume comes to us from somewhere else – whether from across town, across the country or across the world,” Wachs said. “The prices and availability of all these items depends on how quickly, efficiently, safely and cheaply businesses can move them through the supply chain that connects fields and factories to stores in communities around the world.”

The growth in international trade is overwhelming intermodal freight capacity, Wachs said. Congestion at critical ports, borders and urban areas is slowing the flow of freight throughout North America and other major gateway locations worldwide, he added.

Speeding the flow of goods through the supply chain is a difficult task, further complicated by labor shortages, security concerns and safety and environmental issues like noise and air pollution, Wachs said.

The RAND Supply Chain Center is a member-sponsored research initiative, with the executive committee of sponsors directing the center's agenda. The center's founding partners include The Dow Chemical Company, the Port of Los Angeles and The UPS Foundation.

“As the world's largest chemical manufacturer, Dow Chemical depends on a complex, global supply chain,” said Dow Global Director for Infrastructure Cindy Elliott. “The sustainability of not only our company, but the global economy, depends on the efficient, secure, and reliable flow of goods notwithstanding ever-increasing demands on the world's transportation infrastructure. We are honored to partner with RAND in the formation of the Supply Chain Policy Center to help advance sound public policy to ensure such a sustainable future."

“As a port that is leading the industry in sustainable ‘green growth' strategies, we see our member affiliation with the RAND Supply Chain Policy Center as a win-win opportunity for the RAND Corporation and the Port of Los Angeles,” said Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the nation's largest container port. “From an industry standpoint, the Port of Los Angeles can offer RAND a broad depth of understanding about the toughest issues facing maritime trade and goods movement. In turn, RAND can conduct research that will probe for the most meaningful solutions to the biggest challenges we face.”

“Giving back to the communities is an important part of UPS's nearly 100 year-old culture that's embraced by our employees through volunteerism, making donations and sharing their unique skill sets,” said Lisa Hamilton, president of The UPS Foundation. “As a global leader in supply chain services, we're proud to be a founding partner in the Supply Chain Policy Center.”

The RAND Supply Chain Policy Center's research topics will include examination of:

  • Infrastructure finance. With funds from sources like motor fuels taxes on the decline, how can government and businesses pay for the critical investment in new roads, and better and more secure air and sea ports?
  • Rail capacity needs. What is the actual rail capacity in North America? Where are the key bottlenecks? Where should future rail investment go?
  • Mitigating highway congestion. Can options like congestion tolls, expanding general purpose highway lanes and truck-only toll lanes ease congestion for the trucking industry as well as the traveling public?
  • Supply chain risk analysis. Examining “what if” scenarios such as a disaster or terrorist strike causing a major port complex to shut down, disrupting freight flow patterns and causing severe shortages of critical goods and supplies.

The RAND Supply Chain Policy Center will hold a symposium on May 17 in Washington, D.C. RAND experts will present the center's latest findings, and Wachs will moderate a panel discussion with industry leaders.

The center is a part of RAND's Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment division, which also coordinates the work of: RAND Safety and Justice; the RAND Homeland Security Center; RAND Energy, Environment, and Economic Development; and RAND Transportation, Space, and Technology. ISE's mission is to improve the development, management and protection of society's essential built and natural assets, as well as related social assets, such as safety and security.

Dow is a diversified chemical company that harnesses the power of innovation, science and technology to constantly improve what is essential to human progress. The company offers a broad range of products and services to customers in more than 175 countries, helping them to provide everything from fresh water, food and pharmaceuticals to paints, packaging and personal care products. Built on a commitment to its principles of sustainability, Dow has annual sales of $49 billion and employs 43,000 people worldwide. More information about Dow can be found at www.dow.com

The Port of Los Angeles is the leading seaport in the nation by measure of shipping container volume and cargo value. As the gateway for more than 40 percent of the goods and materials imported into the U.S. each year, the San Pedro Bay ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach generate more than $305 billion in national economic trade, and facilitate more than 3.3 million jobs across the United States. For more information about the port, go to www.portoflosangeles.org

The UPS Foundation is the charitable arm of UPS. It identifies specific areas where its backing clearly impacts social issues. In support of this strategic approach, The UPS Foundation has identified literacy, hunger relief, and volunteerism as its focus areas. In 2006, The UPS Foundation has distributed more than $45 million worldwide through grants that benefit organizations or programs such as the RAND Supply Chain Policy Center, and provides support for building stronger communities. For more information on The UPS Foundation, go to www.community.ups.com

About RAND

RAND 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.