The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic dislocation revealed long-standing vulnerabilities in our supply chains. The pandemic’s drastic impacts on demand patterns for a range of medical products including essential medicines wreaked havoc on the U.S. healthcare system. As the world shifted to work and learn from home, it created a global semiconductor chip shortage impacting automotive, industrial, and communications products, among others. In February, extreme weather events—exacerbated by climate change—further exacerbated these shortages. In recent months the strong U.S. economic rebound and shifting demand patterns have strained supply chains in other key products, such as lumber, and increased strain on U.S. transportation and shipping networks.
On February 24, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order (E.O.) 14017, “America’s Supply Chains,” in which he directed the U.S. government to undertake a comprehensive review of critical U.S. supply chains to identify risks, address vulnerabilities and develop a strategy to promote resilience. When the President signed the order, he invoked an old proverb: “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.” And on, and on, until the kingdom was lost. Small failures at even one point in supply chains can impact America’s security, jobs, families, and communities.
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