This has been an eventful week for those of us in the United States. Shortly after being sworn in as the 46th president on Wednesday, President Biden signed 17 executive orders — more than any previous modern president.
It’s also been a momentous week for supply chain professionals. On Day 2, Biden signed the Executive Order on a Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain. It includes a Pandemic Supply Chain Resilience Strategy to design, build and sustain “long-term capability in the United States to manufacture supplies for future pandemics and biological threats.” The plan includes:
- mechanisms to respond to emergency supply needs
- an analysis of the role of foreign supply chains in America’s pandemic supply chain, as well as options for strengthening and better coordinating global supply chain systems
- mechanisms to address points of failure in supply chains and to ensure necessary redundancies
- approaches to assess and maximize public-private partnerships and federal investments in latent manufacturing capacity
- a multi-year implementation plan for domestic production of pandemic supplies.
To achieve these goals — and vaccinate 100 million Americans in 100 days — Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act. It will be used to help his COVID-19 response team figure out the logistics of delivering vaccines to hospitals, doctors’ offices and pharmacies across the country — as well as shoring up the supply of shots, masks, PPE, syringes, vials, dry ice and other cooling equipment to transport millions of doses.
In addition, Biden has named three officials to his supply chain task force, who will be responsible for coordinating supply chain strategy: Bechara Choucair; Carole Johnson; and Tim Manning. As supply coordinator, Manning is tasked with identifying potential vaccine- and testing-related supply shortages. A former deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he will also have the ability to evoke the Defense Production Act to spur production.
Manning will “coordinate the federal effort focused on securing, strengthening and ensuring a sustainable pandemic supply chain,” according to a press release by the Biden-Harris transition team.
On Inauguration Day, the nation also rejoined the World Health Organization (WHO), adding the United States to the global pandemic response. A key shift in health policy, this move also supports the coordinated task force created by the United Nations and supported by the WHO, which ensures the rapid production of PPE and the distribution of materials to cooperating countries across the world.
In addition, Biden fulfilled his promise to immediately rejoin the legally binding Paris Agreement. It was a signal to the world that his administration is serious about slowing climate change and creating more sustainable business practices.
It’s also incredibly significant that Vice President Harris became the first woman and woman of color in the White House. As I wrote last week, a shocking 100% of jobs lost in December 2020 were held by women, who are a key part of a functioning supply chain for businesses around the globe. Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill includes $416 billion for the vaccination program and a plan to reopen schools.
Getting school-aged children safely back to in-person schooling will hopefully lift the burden on millions of parents struggling to manage work and childcare, freeing them to return to jobs many of them have left unwillingly. While kids back at school won’t be a panacea for unemployed women, it will be a major step in the right direction.
Here at ASCM, we have long known the power of supply chains to make an impact. Now, with the Executive Order on a Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain putting our industry in the spotlight once again, it’s time to turn these visions into reality. When we work together, there’s no doubt in my mind that we can address critical global challenges, achieve brighter futures and create a better world through supply chain.