On Wednesday, the White House blog announceda long overdue initiative, A National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security. Overall, Supply Chain Matters applauds this initiative, and we urge our fellow supply bloggers, chain social media influencers, and professional groups such as CSCCMP to do the same.

The initiative, outlined in a White House PDF document, acknowledges that:” The global supply chain system that supports trade is essential to the United States’ economy and security and is a critical global asset.”  The effort is directed at articulating policies to strengthen inbound and outbound supply chains within the U.S. and its trading partners. The outlined document provides further details including the key objectives needing to be addressed in an implementation plan which readers can review.

The strategy includes two goals:

  1. Promote the efficient and secure movement of goods, protecting the supply chain from exploitation and reducing its vulnerabilities to disruption.  This goal is described as strengthening the security of physical infrastructures, conveyances and information assets.
  2. Foster a global supply chain that is prepared for, and can withstand, evolving threats and hazards along with recovering rapidly from any disruptions.  This particular goal umbrellas the management of overall supply chain risk through layered defenses.

The timetable for this initiative is rather aggressive and calls for the Departments of State and Homeland Security to provide recommendations in six months, with implementation of recommendations to begin immediately upon its release.  We believe that one of the most important aspects of this initiative is a White House encouragement of input from key stakeholders, including governmental and private sector interests and agencies.  The Department of Homeland Security has setup a custom web site that outlines how key stakeholders can submit recommendations.

What immediately concerns us is that this long overdue initiative has to address two very major issues, either of which would justify its own set of comprehensive initiatives.  This includes the threat of a major disruption event such as severe natural disaster or terrorist related, as well as countering a growing proliferation of goods that are illegitimate and not what they are represented to be.  The other aspect is that six months is not a lot of time to gather and assimilate stakeholder input, but we suppose that a longer timetable would only elongate this effort without near-term governmental actions in place.

Our hope is that industry bodies such as the Supply Chain Risk Leadership Council and the Global Risk Network shepherded by NYU will elect to be active contributors to this effort since each has developed much key learning and recommendations on supply chain resiliency and threats.

A final observation relates to the current toxic political climate that surrounds Washington DC.  No doubt, some on the right may elect to seize on the headline of this initiative as an election year political stunt, or another effort directed at more government regulation and oversight.  Supply Chain Matters emphatically declares that this initiative is much too critical to be tossed into the current toxic political discourse, and is rather one of the most important efforts needed to insure the economic viability of the U.S. economy.  Reflect back on the incidents of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that previously impacted the U.S. Gulf coast and the tragic tsunami and floods that impacted Asia in 2011.  Consider the current vulnerabilities of the U.S. west coast or southwest, the U.S. power grid, and other potential threats.

In the coming months Supply Chain Matters will do its part to detail more of the activities and highlights of this effort.

Let us all enthusiastically get behind the President’s initiative on protecting global supply chains.

Bob Ferrari