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Philip J. Palin
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During 2019, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) sponsored a proof-of-concept project for supply chain resilience in the Puget Sound region. This project was intended to explore strategies and techniques for facilitating supply chain response and recovery following a catastrophic earthquake. Several participants in the 2019 process have suggested that during the winter of 2020, the project’s relationships and principles had a practical influence on early private-public collaboration in the pandemic response.

This assessment explores these impressions and possible “unintended consequences” of the 2019 project, and derives potential strategic and operational implications.

This is a retrospective assessment of indirect outcomes that some perceive emerged months after a project conceived for a very different context was completed. This emergence, if valid, coincided with early and uncertain efforts to contain and respond to a global pandemic. At best, this is a highly ambiguous context. To explore these possibilities, we have used case study methods.
Invoking context is a particular purpose of case study methods. Robert Yin has defined a case study as “an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundary between phenomenon and context is not clearly evident.”

In this case, a boundary that was supposedly closed in late 2019 spontaneously reopened in early 2020 and expanded quickly. A boundary that was originally and rigorously defined for specific Puget Sound geographies suddenly assumed national scope and scale.
George Alexander and Andrew Bennett identify four strengths of case studies: “Their potential for achieving high conceptual validity, their strong procedures for fostering new hypotheses, their value as a useful means to closely examine the hypothesized role of causal mechanisms in the context of individual cases, and their capacity for addressing causal complexity.”

Case studies tend to be better at asking questions than answering questions. This assessment offers possible answers—but even these answers imply follow-on questions. The assessment is presented in three parts: Case Study: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing; Implications and Follow-on Questions; and Origin, Purposes, Methods, and Outcome of the 2019 CISA Project.

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Distribution: Approved for public release. Unlimited distribution.

Portions of this work were performed under contract to DHS CISA, contract number: 47QRAA18D003X.


  • Pages: 44
  • Document Number: IIM-2022-U-032023
  • Publication Date: 5/4/2022
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