Can the Council on Supply Chain Resilience Secure the Nation?

Effort is part of Biden administration’s efforts to secure the nation’s supply chain

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The White House this week introduced a new series of supply chain-focused initiatives through its newly-established White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience, which it said is comprised of nearly 30 actions focused on strengthen the country’s supply chains.

The White House said that this effort is focused on boosting supply chains considered critical to the country’s economic and national security while also boosting the economy on various fronts—including:

• Enabling reliable deliveries for businesses

• Strengthening U.S. agriculture and food systems

• Supporting good-paying union jobs—and also “support the enduring reliance of America’s critical supply chains.”

“We’re doubling down on our work at home—starting right here, right now — with the launch of a new Council on Supply Chain Resilience,” said President Joe Biden at a press briefing Monday. “I’m charging this group to ensure that our supply chains remain secure, diversified, resilient…into the future. I’ve also directed my cabinet to create an early warning system that uses data to spot supply chain risks to our economic security, our national security, our energy security, and our climate security.”

Read the details: White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience is introduced by the Biden Administration

Reaction among industry observers was mixed, and hinted at the scope of the work to come.

Brooks Bentz, a supply chain consultant, said the willingness to engage the industry is a step forward.

“While the write-up is long and expansive, the best part of this, should it prove to be the case, is the apparent willingness to engage key stakeholders,” he told SCMR’s sister publication Logistics Management. “I defy anyone to find a company that doesn’t want more supply chain resiliency. The basic premise should be to create a program that will help companies by listening to what obstacles they face, particularly those imposed by government, and helping to remove them. It can also provide benefits by creating a forum and platform for helping facilitate the setting of certain standards relating to data management so that intra- and inter-supply chain communications can be improved and real or close to real-time status and visibility can be achieved.”

Ben Gordon, founder and managing partner of Palm Beach, Florida-based Cambridge Capital, and managing partner of BG Strategic Advisors, had a different take, calling out the White House for not turning to expert supply chain practitioners for guidance on it.

“I speak regularly with a lot of the top supply chain CEOs and professionals. None of them has been consulted for this Biden supply chain initiative,” he said. “If I were advising the administration, I would encourage them to speak with supply chain CEOs from across warehousing, freight forwarding, truck brokerage, distribution, and technology. What I think the administration would learn is that we are far from successful when it comes to U.S. supply chains. Our weaknesses include tremendous volatility, which is reflected in the record number of bankruptcies in trucking and freight brokerage this year. They also include extremely high dependence on markets that are often not aligned with the U.S., including Chinese rare earths, Mideast oil, and others. Our supply chains suffer from data fragmentation that prevents decision-makers from making holistic decisions based on the most relevant inputs. Lastly, we are increasingly lagging when it comes to investing in crucial supply chain technology. I hope the Biden administration is consulting other supply chain industry sources so they can incorporate much-needed improvements in the plan to strengthen American competitiveness.”

Meanwhile, China, noted Gordon, is increasingly outstripping the U.S. when it comes to investment in robotics, AI, and other technologies crucial to supply chain competitiveness.

This White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience’s action items are wide-ranging, addressing various issues domestically and internationally, including:

• $196 million in USDA investments focused on strengthening domestic food supply chains;

• The first-ever National Defense Industrial Strategy published by DOD, which will support defense-critical supply chains;

• The launch of the first quadrennial supply chain review, which will be completed by the Council by December 31, 2024, and update criteria on industries, sectors, and products defined as critical to national and economic security;

• The launch of the DOT Multimodal Freight Office responsible for maintaining and improving the condition and performance of the nation’s multimodal freight network;

• Use of the Defense Production Act to make more essential medicines in America and mitigate drug shortage; and

• The development of several cross-government partnerships to improve supply chain monitoring and strategy, including the Department of Commerce’s new, first-of-its-kind Supply Chain Center is integrating industry expertise and data analytics to develop innovative supply chain risk assessment tools, among others.


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About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
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Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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