CBA: A federal Office of Supply Chain Resiliency is “imperative” to repair weaknesses revealed by pandemic

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty/ Alistair Berg
Source: Getty/ Alistair Berg

Related tags Consumer Brands Association Supply chain

As legislators continue to negotiate an infrastructure deal, the Consumer Brands Association urges democratic leaders to include the creation of a federal Office of Supply Chain Resiliency to address ongoing challenges exposed and magnified by the pandemic and to improve future emergency preparedness.

“Amid rising manufacturing and consumer costs, deteriorating infrastructure, labor shortages and continued pandemic challenges, there is no shortage of supply chain issues,”​ CBA President and CEO Geoff Freeman tells key legislators in a July 9 letter​. “One workable and immediate solution has been put forward by members of Congress as well as the administration: establishing a federal office of supply chain.”

He explains that such as office, as proposed by President Joe Biden in the American Jobs Plan with an proposed budget of $50bn, “could monitor domestic industrial capacity and fund investments to support the production of critical goods, while overseeing the strategic execution of policies that build resiliency and competitiveness across the US economy.”

Freeman argues that creating a single point of contact with the private sector to address issues that cut across agencies “is an imperative to boost resiliency.”

For support, he points to a recent report​ published by CBA along with the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and Iowa State University that found efforts to reinforce and repair supply chain resiliency cut across government agencies and involved a wide-range of private players whose combined efforts would be more effective if brought together under one office for oversight.

Creating a public-private partnership for streamlined oversight, advancement

According to the report, a search of the Library of Congress revealed that “by mid-September 2020, there were more than 125 bills proposed by the 116th​ Congress that make some reference to supply chains in the text of the legislation, including 10 that have supply chains in the title,”​ excluding bills that pertain to transportation infrastructure funding.

While this indicates significant interest by lawmakers, the public and other stakeholders, the report argues there is not an easy way for industry to engage systematically to ensure pivotal points are addressed while simultaneously streamlining business.

Indeed, the report notes, “a major role of government should be to establish policies that are facilitative and enabling of private sector supply chains’ development and adoption of new technologies and managerial practices that lead to improved performance.”

But at the same time, it adds, “a corollary of enabling policies is the elimination or reduction of unnecessary and restrictive regulations that hinder operational efficiency and inhibit innovation.”

By bringing all supply chain related concerns and ideas for improvement under one office, meeting these needs would be easier, the report argues.

“An Office of Supply Chain in the federal government is desperately needed to provide the required leadership to develop sound public policy, monitor its implementation and assess its results,”​ the report concludes.

Top priorities for a new Office of Supply Chain Resiliency

It adds such as office should focus on three macro-level areas: supply chain security, supply chain efficacy and supply chain resilience.

Remaining at a high level, the report notes the best way to meet these goals is to prioritize:

1)      Supply chain physical infrastructure​ – Within the next one to two years, the report advocates, the office should work with the Department of Transportation to improve the national highway system to meet the long-term needs of freight transportation, prioritize traffic congestion reduction that threatens speed and reliability of delivery, and create a framework for emerging technology that could easy driver shortages, such as self-driving vehicles. In the next three to five years, environmental, transportation and labor regulations should be harmonized.

2)      Supply chain standardization​ – The report argues, “when regulations and regulatory processes are not harmonized or standardized among states … and federal government, it presents a major obstacle to achieving an integrated, seamless supply chain.”

3)      Supply chain digitization and cybersecurity​ – Under this goal, the next two years should focus on digitizing transactions to streamline data collection, reporting and dissemination, and working with the private sector to improve visibility and traceability for critical goods. Longer term, the report advocates for reducing the minimum age of Class A commercial driver’s licenses to 18 given emerging diver-supported technologies, and explore how to recruit employees for emerging jobs that are “becoming more technical in nature,”​ including reforming immigration policies to increase the employee pool.

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