Supply Chain Policy

A cargo ship being loaded at port.

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RAND Social and Economic Well-Being conducts research that helps the public and private sectors address issues critical to the supply chains that drive the U.S., North American, and international economies, with a special emphasis on freight transportation.

The transportation and global logistics industries have problems of enormous complexity that are solvable through research and development, yet analysis has not been a high priority in these fields. RAND is known for high-quality research in support of public policy and has a long history of conducting analysis that is both independent and guided by the concerns of its business partners.

  • Trucks on a highway

    A Federal Role in Freight Planning and Finance

    Mar 21, 2012

    Congestion within the U.S. freight system has increased dramatically in the past few decades, costing travelers, consumers, and businesses billions of dollars each year. A federal policy is offered to address the challenges faced by the U.S. freight network in an environment dominated by declining revenues and public resistance to increasing taxes.

RAND provides analysis in four areas to support long-term strategic decision-making:

  • Evaluating and forecasting the economic effects of supply chain disruptions and shifting trade patterns.
  • Identifying physical, operational, regulatory, and legal vulnerabilities to the performance of the freight transport system.
  • Formulating and assessing short and long term measures and implementation strategies available to the public and private sectors to improve the performance of the freight transport system.
  • Assessing opportunities for advanced technologies to play a role in addressing critical issues, such as security, enhanced productivity, and environmental mitigation.


  • Soldier-Portable Battery Supply: Foreign Dependence and Policy Options 2014

    Batteries are a ubiquitous presence in equipment carried by soldiers. These batteries are acquired through a supply chain driven by commercial applications and predominately based in Asia. RAND found that government and industry representatives of military battery suppliers have concerns associated with this foreign-dependent supply chain. The report discusses alternative policy options to address these concerns.

  • Sourcing and Global Distribution of Medical Supplies 2014

    The Department of Defense provides medical care to service members all over the world and must ensure that health care providers have the proper quantity and quality of medical materiel. RAND investigated opportunities to gain efficiencies in the logistics enterprise without sacrificing capability, notably through minimizing intermediate materiel handling, seeking greater value from commercial freight, and streamlining warehouse operations.

  • Transforming Compliance: Emerging Paradigms for Boards, Management, Compliance Officers, and Government 2014

    RAND convened the symposium "Transforming Compliance: Emerging Paradigms for Boards, Management, Compliance Officers, and Government" in May 2014 in order to stimulate a forward-looking conversation about compliance as a field, factors that are likely to contribute to its transformational change, and practical implications for key stakeholder groups. These proceedings summarize the discussions and include the white papers.

  • Critical Materials: Present Danger to U.S. Manufacturing 2013

    A high percentage of many raw and semi-finished materials critical to U.S. manufacturing are imported. China is the controlling producer of 11 of these materials and has instituted export restrictions that have led to two-tier pricing, creating pressure to move manufacturing to China. This report suggests the need for actions to mitigate the impact of such market distortions on the global manufacturing sector.

  • Identifying and Managing Air Force Sustainment Supply Chain Risks 2013

    This document seeks to help the Air Force develop a strategy for managing supply chain risks during sustainment. In it, the authors review literature on supply chain risk management (SCRM), examine current Air Force practices for and guidance on SCRM, describe emerging commercial best practices for SCRM, and discuss the implications for Air Force SCRM organization and practices.

  • Improving Inventory Management of Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment at Central Issue Facilities 2013

    Army Central Issue Facilities do not have a formal mechanism signaling when to review inventory levels and when and whether to requisition items. This study provides logistics leaders need a routinized inventory review process to help improve inventory management practices. The current process is based on managers' experience and expert judgment, and, because of local differences, can be executed unevenly and typically infrequently.

  • Maximizing Throughput at Soft Airfields 2013

    Because soft airfields can support only a limited number of takeoffs and landings, it is important to understand how to maximize the cargo throughput at these soft fields. This report shows that there is an optimum landing weight that allows for maximum cargo delivery. This optimum landing weight is constant and independent of both aircraft ramp weight and the ability of the soil to resist compressive loads.

  • Best Practices in Supplier Relationship Management and Their Early Implementation in the Air Force Materiel Command 2012

    In 2002, the Air Force initiated a program called Supplier Relationship Management (SRM), which seeks to manage relationships with suppliers to reduce the total cost of logistics operations and improve their performance. This report reviews the literature on best practices in SRM, assesses how the Air Force has implemented SRM, and recommends actions, based on lessons from the private sector, that the Air Force could take to improve its SRM program.

  • A Federal Role in Freight Planning and Finance 2012

    This monograph describes a federal freight policy designed to address growing challenges faced by the U.S. freight network in an environment dominated by declining revenues and public resistance to increasing taxes. The strategy emphasizes disaggregating project costs and benefits by location, stakeholder, and level of government and requiring identifiable beneficiaries to pay a share of project costs proportionate to the benefits they receive.

  • A Gap Analysis of Life Cycle Management Commands and Best Purchasing and Supply Management Organizations 2013

    In recent years the Army has sought to improve its purchasing and supply management (PSM) through the introduction of practices such as longer-term contracts, sharing demand forecasts with selected suppliers, and reducing lead times. To enhance these efforts, it asked RAND Arroyo Center to review its achievements in implementing best PSM practices and to assess how its progress compares with that of leading commercial enterprises.