Abstract collage of science-related imagery

Disrupting Operations of Illicit Supply Networks (D-ISN)

View guidelines

NSF 21-582

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.


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.

Program contacts

Georgia-Ann Klutke
gaklutke@nsf.gov (703) 292-2443 ENG/CMMI
Yueyue Fan
yfan@nsf.gov (703) 292-4453
Bruce Hamilton
bhamilto@nsf.gov (703) 292-7066
Mark S. Hurwitz
mhurwitz@nsf.gov (703) 292-5366
Jeffrey W. Mantz
jmantz@nsf.gov (703) 292-7783 SBE/BCS
Wendy Nilsen
wnilsen@nsf.gov (703) 292-2568 CISE/IIS
Reggie S. Sheehan
rsheehan@nsf.gov (703) 292-5389 SBE/SES

Awards made through this program

Browse projects funded by this program
Map of recent awards made through this program