A coalition of industry groups is calling for the Biden Administration to establish a national Office of Supply Chain to provide expertise, facilitate coordination across the federal government, and encourage collaboration with the private sector.
The approach could help supply chains meet fluctuating consumer demand despite the impacts of powerful events like the Covid-19 pandemic and the polar vortex that caused freezing temperatures and failed power grids in Texas, the groups said.
With better communication and planning, stores would be able to maintain inventory of household items like disinfectants, baby food, and toilet paper instead of leaving shoppers with empty shelves, according to the Consumer Brands Association, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), and researchers from Iowa State University. Drawing on input from 25 supply chain thought leaders and government and non-governmental organizations (NGO) research, the three groups drafted a report called “U.S. Supply Chain Priorities: The Case for a Federal Office of Supply Chain.”
The groups point to guidance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s 2019 Supply Chain Resilience Guide as saying the most effective way to deliver needed supplies to a disaster-impacted area is by re-establishing pre-disaster supply chains. To enable that approach, policymakers need a roadmap to enhance supply chain competitiveness and resiliency, and remedy the current “disjointed” system, the partners said.
“The pandemic displayed just how fragile and essential supply chains are, especially for vulnerable populations where access, affordability and availability are paramount,” Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, said in a release. “Supply chains deliver for millions of consumers every day, yet they don’t receive the necessary coordinated attention from our policymakers. Greater federal leadership on supply chain policy will lead to a stronger economic recovery, growth and stability for future crises.”
To reach those goals, the report calls for three steps in addition to creating the national Office of Supply Chain: reforming immigration policies to build a talent pipeline; developing new funding mechanisms to meet the long-term needs of freight transportation; and establishing a framework to accommodate quickly emerging innovative vehicle technologies.
The report also backs potential legislation known as H.R. 1024, a bipartisan bill recently introduced by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL-10) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD-AL) to establish such an office to address persistent concerns stemming from Covid-19.
“Well-intentioned policy efforts are currently hindered by the disjointed nature of government and the lack of an overarching national strategy,” Chris Adderton, vice president of CSCMP, said in a release. “Our report identifies dozens of opportunities for government to help improve the tremendous complexity and interconnected nature of modern supply chains.”