Ever since the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020, the supply chain has been in the spotlight like never before. The recent challenges have renewed calls for the government to step in with plans to make the supply chain more resilient.

On February 23, the Consumer Brands Association, in partnership with the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and Iowa State University, published a report urging the establishment of a Federal Office of Supply Chain and making various policy recommendations.

The CBA notes that there are already initiatives at various levels of government to address supply chain issues, which can provide the foundation for a more centralized approach.

“Far from heralding bigger government or yet another government agency, such an entity would actually make better use of what we already have,” CBA vice president of supply chain and logistics Tom Madrecki wrote in a blog post. “The U.S. is not lacking in supply chain policy — in fact, it’s quite abundant. Many different policies impact businesses and ultimately the consumers those businesses serve. But the interplay between those policies and the private sector has not been fully documented or well understood…”

The CBA interviewed supply chain thought leaders to identify six focus areas:

  1. Optimize freight movement over national transportation networks
  2. Increase the skilled labor pool for supply chain
  3. Increase harmonization and digitization
  4. Improve urban / metro freight logistics
  5. Promote supply chain technology, process, and service innovation
  6. Identify, manage, support, and protect critical supply chains

Under each of these focus areas, they provided specific recommendations ranging from reducing the minimum age for a Class A commercial driver’s license from 21 to 18 to reforming immigration policies to increase the employee pool for supply chain jobs, to accelerating efforts in digitization and cybersecurity.

Today, in a perhaps not unrelated development, the White House announced that President Biden will sign an Executive Order to help create more resilient and secure supply chains. 

The plan consists of two phases — an immediate 100-day review of vulnerabilities in the supply chains of four key products followed by an in-depth one-year review of a broader set of supply chains, including those for agricultural commodities and food production.

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