SUPPLY-CHAIN SECURITYDARPA Selects Teams to Boost Supply-and-Demand Network Resiliency

Published 21 October 2023

DARPA selected teams to develop new tools and analytics capable of helping the Department of Defense and its commercial partners improve systemic resilience in various supply-and-demand networks. Resilient Supply-and-Demand Network performers will create a general-purpose toolkit to improve systemic resilience in modern supply chains.

DARPAselected teams to develop new tools and analytics capable of helping the Department of Defense and its commercial partners improve systemic resilience in various supply-and-demand networks.

These networks encompass open, complex, and evolving systems of miners, designers, manufacturers, marketers, shippers, lawyers, insurers, etc. Network dynamics reflect the impact of both external factors (e.g., conflict, climate change) and internal behaviors (e.g., inventory management) – creating the potential for unwanted surprises that can adversely affect access to national security resources.

According to DARPA’s Resilient Supply-and-Demand Networks (RSDN) program manager, Dr. Mark Flood, profit motives have made modern supply chains efficient yet fragile. Therefore, the program will look at the risk and the resilience of supply-and-demand networks rather than efficiency. It will also focus on problems that emerge at the system scale rather than localized vulnerabilities.

“We will identify issues at the point of procurement and acquisition rather than logistics and delivery,” said Flood. “It is at the early phases of the lifecycle when the risks and uncertainties are greatest, and where the most improvement is possible.”

Research teams will take a page from financial regulators’ playbook by using an approach known as stress-testing, i.e., a simulation technique used to test the resilience of institutions against possible future financial situations.

“In finance, stress-testing has emerged as a central approach to addressing radical uncertainty in that system, or the possibility of transformative events for which there is no useful precedent,” explained Flood. “Stress testing exploits the fact that, while it may be difficult or impossible to predict shock events, it is usually possible to estimate system response, conditional on a specific event.”

Some examples of such events include the 2008 financial crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine. Stress testing addresses the challenge that there is only one history but many possible futures, says Flood. Therefore, the design of stress scenarios is critical.

The following program performers will concentrate their research and prototyping efforts on three diverse use cases – including metals for military applications, especially copper, military food and sustenance, and pharmaceuticals.

·  Accenture Federal Services and Two Six Technologies will procure commercial data and integrate it with relevant government data to represent supply-and-demand networks.

·  Stealth Software Technologies, the University of Oklahoma, and Uncharted Software will develop an extensible set of analytical tools to instrument supply-and-demand networks to describe and explore their fragilities (threats and vulnerabilities).

·  Raytheon BBN will develop a first-of-its-kind modeling and simulation tool that uses historical and behavioral survey data to predict the impact of and develop mitigations to shocks to supply demand networks.