What’s the Government’s Role in the Supply Chain?

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What’s the Government’s Role in the Supply Chain?

By Jenny McTaggart - 07/01/2020
What’s the Government’s Role in the Supply Chain?
The Consumer Brands Association wants the government to help businesses navigate their supply chain needs, particularly in times of crisis.

These days, when you think of public policy and politics in general, the supply chain isn’t something that generally comes to mind. But at least one industry trade group is working to change that. The Consumer Brands Association (CBA), based in Arlington, Virginia, is calling on the government to take on a more supportive role in helping businesses navigate their supply chain needs, particularly in times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are some opportunities for the government, in a supporting capacity, to encourage the performance and competitiveness and resiliency of the U.S. supply chain,” says Tom Madrecki, CBA’s VP of supply chain. “There’s a public policy aspect there.”

Traditionally, different aspects of the supply chain have been addressed to some degree throughout separate agencies of the government, he notes, whether it’s been the Department of Transportation or the Department of Commerce or, in the grocery industry world, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture. In an effort to help agencies work together more closely, CBA is calling for the formation of a White House Office of Supply Chain.

“This could be a single source, an office that’s informed by experts who understand how the modern supply chain functions, and the degree to which there’s all this complexity and interconnectedness, and also globalization, that needs to be enhanced and preserved, and then coordinated across agencies,” Madrecki explains.

This idea also speaks to the need for more informed decision-making when it comes to supply chains within the government, he continues. While there are individual performance metrics for publicly available data, there isn’t a central database within the government to assess how America is performing from a supply chain standpoint. That being the case, CBA recently called for the creation of a National Supply Chain Index and Performance Dashboard within the Department of Commerce.

The dashboard would include the data needed to establish an early-warning system regarding possible supply chain issues and disruptions.

While these ideas are still being developed, CBA has already gotten the ball rolling by forming the Critical Infrastructure Supply Chain Council, a coordinated effort that includes Arlington-based FMI - The Food Industry Association and more than 35 other trade associations dedicated to tackling both long- and short-term supply chain weaknesses, including those exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.