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.

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.


  • Integrating the Department of Defense Supply Chain 2012

    The authors provide a framework for an integrated Department of Defense (DoD) supply chain, associated policy recommendations, and a companion framework for management practices that will drive people to take actions aligned with this integrated supply chain approach. Building on the framework and policy recommendations, they identify opportunities to improve DoD supply chain efficiency and highlight several already being pursued by DoD.

  • Recrafting Scenario Practice to Achieve Robust Long-Term Decisions 2012

    In this essay, we are concerned with the question: How does what might happen in 2050 affect decisions about the freight transport sector today? How do we make near-term choices that last over the long term? In other words, how do we make decisions today that are robust over a wide range of alternative futures?

  • Deterring the Smuggling of Nuclear Weapons in Container Freight Through Detection and Retaliation 2011

    The authors quantify a game-theoretic model of terrorist decision making to understand the role of nuclear detection technologies in deterring nuclear terrorism.

  • Is There a Cheaper and Faster Way to Distribute Medical Supplies? 2011

    Examines whether there is a less costly medical distribution structure for U.S. Central Command that would maintain or improve performance.

  • Strategic Distribution Platform Support of CONUS Army Units 2011

    The Army desires a distribution system for home station units that provides timely and low-cost delivery of needed supplies. A critical part of this system is the scheduled truck service provided by the Strategic Distribution Platforms. Although this system is relatively strong, researchers explored ways to improve it by adding new units and posts to the truck network and taking other steps to reduce "leakage" from the truck network.

  • Targeted Use of Theater Inventory to Effectively Sustain Overseas Forces While Minimizing Supply Chain Costs 2011

    Discusses how to design a distribution network that takes advantage of the respective strengths of different modes of transportation to meet combatant command needs while minimizing total supply chain costs.

  • What Should Be Stocked in War Reserve? A New Method for Allocating Resources 2011

    Describes the methodology used to develop resource allocation and forward positioning recommendations for the sustainment stock portion of Army pre-positioned stocks, given a specific scenario and budget.

  • Assessment of the USCENTCOM Medical Distribution Structure 2010

    This study examined whether there is a less costly medical distribution structure for U.S. Central Command that would maintain or improve performance. The assessment considered five options, evaluating each one's likely performance and cost implications as well as any effects on activities not related to distribution. Three of the options were found to preserve or improve performance while maintaining or lowering costs.

  • Global Combat Support Basing: Robust Prepositioning Strategies for Air Force War Reserve Materiel 2010

    The ability to rapidly deploy forces into austere locations is essential to the global power projection concept of operation. Materiel used by such expeditionary forces often does not deploy with the unit but is instead sourced from a global network of prepositioning storage locations. Alternative approaches to storing combat support materiel might provide better support to deploying forces in an expeditionary environment.

  • A Fruitful Application of Static Marginal Analysis 2015

    This paper describes the application of the technique of simple "marginal analysis" to an Air Force problem and suggests that a similar application may be useful in many industrial situations.