Where National Security Meets Supply Chain Risk

Supply chain risk matters more than you think. And not just to business. Governments -- even our own, despite recent GSA shindigs -- are considering supply chain risk at the forefront of broader defense and trade strategies. New technologies might play an increasing role in how the Feds target supply chain risk. And some of the best ideas are coming from entrepreneurs in the sector. Consider some of the ideas that the co-founder of Sourcemap, Leo Bonanni, shared in a Forbes interview just a week ago.

The fundamental challenge, Bonanni argues, comes down to product traceability -- this goes for everything from spare parts for F-18s to more mundane MRO items to fix federal highways. He suggests: "The problem is historic. Products are incredibly complex, and for hundreds of years now, we have been making products that come from dozens of different countries, that pass through countless ports and are distributed around the world. In the past it was almost impossible to know where a product came from, but that has changed with the advent of the Web, new mapping and satellite techniques, crowd sourcing and social networking."

In other words, traceability is getting easier, despite the proliferation of multi-tier supply chains and global sources of supply. But knowledge counts. To wit, as Bonanni observes, "No matter what you try and measure about a product, whether it's the quality, safety and social impact, or just the ability to confirm that you are buying what you think you are buying, the only way to measure these things is by knowing where things come from."

Granted the Feds would be probably be better served not serving themselves giant sushi feasts at procurement events in Vegas, but alas, once we can pin down the whereabouts of GSA employees dropping coin on the strip, we can then turn our attention to the billions in real spend the government must buy each year. Wherever it comes from, and whatever risk it may introduce.

- Jason Busch

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