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.

  • Processor pins of a microchip

    Oct 16, 2018

    Examining the Weak Spots in Tech's Supply Chain Armor

    When an attack on the supply chain occurs, manufacturers and purchasers should be better positioned to respond and recover. Even the simplest devices can rely on parts from multiple suppliers, which may have their own suppliers and so on. But every supplier, no matter how small, represents a potential weak link in the chain.

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.


  • Unclassified and Secure: A Defense Industrial Base Cyber Protection Program for Unclassified Defense Networks 2020

    The unclassified networks of defense industrial base firms have become an attractive entrance for adversaries seeking access to cutting-edge technologies and research and development efforts. This report describes a way for the U.S. Department of Defense to better secure such networks through the establishment of a cybersecurity program designed to strengthen their protections.

  • Approaches to Strategic Sealift Readiness 2019

    To move military cargo, the U.S. military uses the strategic sealift fleet, which must be maintained to a certain level of readiness. The authors addressed six questions that examine the readiness of the fleet and its management. They determined that many factors — including organizational management, requirements determination, and material and personnel readiness — can be improved to increase readiness and make recommendations toward that end.

  • Insights into global food system risks and opportunities and their implications for the FSA 2019

    Using horizon scanning, a methodology for gathering information about future trends, RAND Europe identified global food system risks and opportunities, and drew out key implications to 2030 for the UK Food Standards Agency and its Science Council. The study was designed to operate as a test of an approach that the FSA could implement to enable ongoing horizon scanning capabilities in matters affecting food safety and authenticity in the UK.

  • Right-Sizing Marine Corps Intermediate Supply Units: A Staffing Model and Proposed Process Improvements 2019

    Because of recent reductions in Marine Corps personnel and increased requirements to support exercises and contingencies, intermediate-level supply accounts are both understaffed and overextended. The authors suggest methods to improve staff modeling and business processes to help these accounts work more effectively and efficiently to meet supported units' needs.

  • Enhancing Air Force Materiel Command Support to the Warfighter 2018

    This analysis recommends ways the Air Force Materiel Command and its centers, specifically the Air Force Sustainment Center (AFSC) and the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (AFIMSC), can provide better-quality information to component staffs so they can be aware of global resource capabilities and risks, ultimately paving the way for these relatively new organizations to adapt and better support the warfighter.

  • Increasing Cost-Effective Readiness for the U.S. Air Force by Reducing Supply Chain Variance: Technical Analysis of Flying Hour Program Variance 2018

    Improving demand forecast accuracy is one way to reduce the $4 billion that the Air Force spends annually on spare parts. A step toward this is to reduce the flying hour variance — the difference between predicted and actual numbers of flying hours. RAND researchers were asked to gauge the potential effect of flying hour variance on cost and readiness, identify the causes of the variance and quantify their effects, and identify possible solutions.

  • Naval Operational Supply System: Analysis of Alternatives 2018

    The Department of the Navy asked the RAND Corporation to assist with the Analysis of Alternatives for modernization of its future operational supply, food service, and retail operations capability, the Naval Operational Supply System. The authors recommend moving to commercial solutions to mitigate existing challenges related to stove piped, antiquated systems that have reliability, supportability, maintainability, and affordability problems.

  • Toward Resiliency in the Joint Blood Supply Chain 2018

    Ensuring that blood remains available and safe for the Joint military community requires sophisticated logistical support and a dependable supply chain in large-scale combat operations. This report describes the current elements of the military's blood supply chain, outlines a framework for assessing its performance, and then explores an array of approaches offering promise of improving the resiliency of the blood supply chain.

  • 3D Printing: Downstream Production Transforming the Supply Chain 2017

    This Perspective describes potential uses of 3D printing in a military context to help the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) understand the structural and policy changes that might be required to support these efforts as well as future impacts on DoD's supply chain. It discusses different types of 3D printing technologies, tracing 3D printing from its origin to its potential to transform supply chains for DoD.

  • Army Stock Positioning: How Can Distribution Performance Be Improved? 2017

    How could the U.S. Army improve its distribution of heavy secondary items that account for a small proportion of the overall items but comprise the majority of the weight shipped? This report analyzes how the Army could leverage the scheduled-truck network of Defense Logistics Agency Distribution hubs to reduce wait time for customers while saving nearly $1 million monthly in shipping costs.