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Glenn College Lends Expertise to Defense Supply, Demand Network Resiliency

News Type College News

The John Glenn College of Public Affairs joins one of three teams selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop new tools and analytics capable of helping the U.S. Department of Defense and its commercial and government partners improve systemic resilience in defense-critical supply chains.

These complex supply chains encompass open, complex and evolving systems of miners, designers, manufacturers, marketers, shippers, lawyers, insurers and others, and their ability to withstand and rebound from threats and external shocks is of critical national importance. 

Network dynamics reflect the impact of both external factors (e.g., conflict, climate change) and internal behaviors (e.g., inventory and production management) — creating the potential for unwanted surprises that can adversely affect access to national security resources. The resulting work of these teams in DARPA’s Resilient Supply-and-Demand Networks program will enable the defense department and commercial partners to appropriately address systemic risk in procurement and acquisition and to identify and mitigate systemic fragilities before they cause disruptions.

Glenn College Associate Professor Noah Dormady, an expert in risk and decision analysis and economic resilience, will design and run a large international survey to gather observational data from firms to evaluate how they handle supply chain disruptions. His work will provide an important ingredient for other researchers and teams within the government to help better understand resilience in these supply-demand networks.

“We will be taking what we know about how firms address major disruptions and applying that to an international network throughout the supply chain — how each firm interacts with all the other firms it gets inputs from and dependencies between and among flows of inputs,” Dormady said.

The team Dormady joins is led by Raytheon-BBN and comprises The Ohio State University, Clarkson University, the University of Southern California and North Dakota State University. The team includes Glenn College PhD graduate Alfredo Roa-Henriquez, a logistics faculty member at North Dakota State University. These experts 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-and-demand networks.

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,” Mark Flood, DARPA’s Resilient Supply-and-Demand Networks program manager, explained in a news release. “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, said Flood. Therefore, the design of stress scenarios is critical.

(Story image used under license from Tierney,