Supply Chains: Meet Build Back Better

Yesterday, Biden issued an executive order on America’s Supply Chains. What’s in it? Thread: (whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/…)

It announces it’s US policy “to strengthen the resilience of America’s supply chains,” citing as benefits rebuilt domestic manufacturing capacity, competitiveness, good jobs, fighting climate change, and helping racial justice and underserved communities. Here are the costs👇

By June 4 of this year, NEC and NSC are instructed to coordinate supply chain reviews in four industries, with four agencies writing them up:

DOC: chips, advanced packaging
DOE: high-capacity batteries, including for EVs
DOD: critical minerals
HHS: pharmaceuticals,. API

Note that this leapfrogs Biden’s 1/20 EO, which gave NSC until July 19 to report on lessons learned from the pandemic, including “the readiness of the pandemic supply chain, healthcare workforce, and hospitals.” (federalregister.gov/documents/2021…) It also leapfrogs the 1/21 EO that gave DOD, HHS, and DHS until July 20 to present Biden with a Pandemic Supply Chain Resilience Strategy to boost US capability to manufacture supplies for future pandemics and biological threats. (federalregister.gov/documents/2021…) It also leapfrogs the 1/27 EO that set out to “accelerate the advancement of America’s industrial capacity to supply, domestic clean energy, buildings, vehicles”

By July 26, agencies must submit plans to protect the feds agst “supply chain disruptions” (federalregister.gov/documents/2021…)

That’s the 100-day plan. It’s the First Year plan where things get interesting! By 2/24/2022, a broader range of agencies get pulled into the action, with reports due to NSC/NEC on the following “industrial bases” from:

DOD: defense
HHS: public health/ biological preparedness
DOC/HHS: info + communications tech (ICT)
DOE: energy
DOT: transport
USDA: ag+food

Fun fact: while the defense industrial base is defined in statute (), the middle four “industrial bases” will be determined by Becerra, Raimondo/Mayorkas, Granholm, and Buttigieg over the course of the next year

(Food + ag are not called a “base”). (cisa.gov/defense-indust…)

But NEC and NSC can tweak the definitions of industrial bases, in particular with an eye to digital products and goods that overlap between the categories.

These Sectoral Supply Chain Assessments are going to be major undertakings, with 11 components, identifying:

1. The “critical goods and materials” in the supply chain in question. This means any good or raw material defined under any statute or regulation as “critical” material, tech, or infrastructure.

The phrase “critical material” is in 88 statutes (mostly re: things we stockpile) and 36 regs. And the Defense Production Act (DPA) uses these 👇

The DPA defines “critical technology” and “critical infrastructure” thusly:

The US government has determined that these 16 sectors are part of the critical infrastructure. They touch almost every major US industry, from food to energy to banking. (cisa.gov/critical-infra…)

“Other essential goods and materials” in the supply chain, which means anything not covered by the statutory or reg definitions.

3. The (emerging) manufacturing or other capabilities necessary to produce 1, 2.

4. Super broad set of vulnerabilities to consider👇

If Section 232 — with its joining of national security and economic security — was too holistic for you, get ready: Team Biden is signaling it’s down with holism. (spglobal.com/marketintellig…)

5. the resilience and capacity of US manufacturing supply chains and the industrial and agricultural base — whether civilian or defense — to support national and economic security, emergency preparedness, and the goals of the EO, specifically along these 10 axes:

6. Whether DOS finds that allied nations are instructing their agencies to make similar industry designations.

In other words, how much allyship are the allies showing? (politico.eu/article/joe-bi…)

7. The primary cause for any risk identified.

8. A ranking of critical goods and materials that need priority action, based on their importance for national security, emergency preparedness, the EO’s policy, or statute. Note that’s a bit less holistic than #4 above. #Realism

9. Policy recommendations! (Finally.) Enumerated tactics include: reshoring, intl cooperation to create alternative supply chains, redundancy, stockpiles, workforce development, financing schemes, R&D, and addressing climate risks and digital dangers.

10. Any reg or law changes needed to strengthen #3 or prepare for #4.

11. Proposals for how government can work better to address the above. Then, the NEC and NSC get to do their own scrub as soon as they can after 2/24/22, taking 9 considerations into account, notably including necessary changes to trade agreements, Buy American rules, and diplomatic practices.

Preventing monopolies, perceptions of corruption, and environmental/ racial/regional injustice also get shout outs for the scrubbing. In short, this is not your father’s industrial policy. It’s going to be hard waiting the full year to see where all this lands.

(Adapted from this thread.)

I write about democracy, political economy, and trade. Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and Roosevelt Forward.