Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 4/18/2022

Disrupting Operations of Illicit Supply Networks (D-ISN)

Criminal networks that illegally traffic in everything from people and drugs to human organs, natural resources and nuclear material pose grave threats to the health, prosperity and security of our Nation.  As an important example, the opioid epidemic in the United States has largely been fueled by new synthetic opioids that are primarily produced in overseas facilities and distributed to the US through intermediate countries.  These illicit supply chains flourish across national boundaries, both taking advantage of and contributing to regional instability. The profits generated through these activities finance ongoing conflicts across the globe.  Making use of the same communications, logistics, transportation, and financial infrastructure that enable globally integrated commercial supply chains, illicit flows are now estimated to account for 4-6% of global GDP, or roughly $2 trillion annually.  Moreover, these networks use exploitative labor, such as child labor, forced labor and human trafficking, to source and produce goods and services that contribute to both illicit and legal commercial supply chains.  The Disrupting Operations of Illicit Supply Networks (D-ISN) Solicitation supports research projects that take a systems approach to advance fundamental understanding of how networks that traffic in illicit or illicitly-produced goods and services operate, leading to technological breakthroughs that bolster our ability to disable these networks.

Major goals of NSF’s D-ISN Solicitation include:

  • Improve understanding of the operations of illicit supply networks and strengthen the ability to detect, disrupt, and dismantle them.
  • Support research on the illicit supply networks that fuel the national opioid epidemic  
  • Enhance research communities that effectively integrate operational, computational, social, cultural and economic expertise to provide methods and strategies to combat this complex and elusive global security challenge.
  • Catalyze game-changing technological innovations that can improve discovery and traceability of illicitly sourced product inputs.
  • Provide research outcomes that inform U.S. national security, law enforcement and economic development needs and policies.

Proposals responding to this solicitation must be submitted to the Directorate for Engineering.  Once received, however, the proposals will be managed by a cross-disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors.

Full Proposal Deadline Date: July 28, 2021; April 22, 2022

Eligibility Requirements

Principal Investigators (PI) from academic organizations must be at the faculty level, tenured or tenure-track, as determined by the submitting organization. If the proposal is submitted by a non-profit, non-academic organization, the lead PI must meet all of the following requirements: (1) the PI has a continuing appointment that is expected to last for the duration of a D-ISN grant; (2) the appointment has substantial research responsibilities; and (3) the proposed project is related to the PI’s job responsibilities as well as to the mission of the department or organization. In addition, a minimum of two collaborating Senior Personnel (e.g. co-PIs, Collaborating PIs) must participate. At least one member of the project team (PI or co-PI) must have a full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty appointment within a College/Department of Engineering.

An investigator may participate as Principal Investigator (PI), co-Principal Investigator (co-PI), Project Director (PD), Senior Personnel or Consultant in no more than two proposals submitted in response to this solicitation. These eligibility constraints will be strictly enforced in order to treat everyone fairly and consistently. In the event that an individual exceeds this limit, proposals received within the limit will be accepted based on earliest date and time of proposal submission (i.e., the first two proposals received will be accepted, and the remainder will be returned without review). No exceptions will be made.

Limit on Number of PIs, co-PIs, Senior Personnel per Collaborative Project:

Projects from teams of three or more PI and co-PIs or a PI, co-PI and Senior Personnel will be considered. Collaborative Proposals with fewer PI/co-PIs/Senior Personnel are not permitted and will be returned without review.

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 10 to 15 - per year, subject to availability of funds.

Projects will be funded for up to four years for a total of $1,000,000 ($250,000 per year).

Anticipated Funding Amount: $10,000,000 to $15,000,000

-in FY 2021, subject to the availability of funds and the quality of the proposals received.

Funding Type