Critics of the White House’s handling of the supply chain and economy leveled early criticism of the administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force. Launched in June, the group responsible for restoring some semblance of order to bottlenecked West Coast ports provided no viable solutions as autumn arrived. That’s largely why media outlets such as the National Review lambasted the task force for lack of progress. By mid-October, a record number of cargo ships were stuck idling off the coast of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
“(H)as the Supply Chain Disruption Task Force really been such a sterling success? Does Biden really want to tell the world that he told (DOT Secretary) Buttigieg, (Commerce Secretary) Raimondo, and (Agriculture Secretary) Vilsack to focus on this problem four months ago, and the current messes, headaches, and worsening problems are all they have to show for their efforts,” the National Review stated at the time.
Many believe those are fair questions and criticisms of the Biden Administration and task force that appears to have only worsened the supply chain disruptions by advocating for shipping container fines passed along to consumers. While the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force has neither come up with a stop-gap measure nor long-term policy to turn the tide, it has begun publishing supply chain metrics. The online “Transportation Supply Chain Dashboard” will reportedly post numbers twice-monthly going forward. These were among the Nov. 2 metrics.
- Imports Arriving: 379,000, a 17-percent spike over 2018.
- U.S. Retail Inventory: $455 billion, a 4 percent increase over 2020.
- IRI On-the-Shelf Availability: 89 percent, a 2 percent drop from pandemic levels.
When the Nov. 2 metrics were published, approximately 75 cargo ships were anchored off the California coast. That number has increased to more than 110. Recent White House press release information appears to be trying to explain the root causes, identify problem areas, but offers no policy initiatives to improve freight movement and curb inflation in the near future. For example, a White House post spoke directly to the cargo ship logjam by stating the following.
“This number is partly driven by consumer demand for goods and also impacted by delta-related port and factory shutdowns in Asia,” the White House reportedly stated.
Noting that ports have managed to move upwards of 18 percent more cargo through than in 2018, the administration indicated it would employ the task force to provide deeper tracking metrics while stating the obvious: “It’s not enough to move goods into the country — we also need to make sure that we get them on shelves,” the administration reportedly stated.
The twice-monthly supply chain metrics may provide logistics insiders insight into freight movement. It does little — if anything — to alleviate goods and materials shortages or slow inflation. Perhaps the criticism of the National Review stands on solid ground. Truckers move freight, not trendy metrics on an internet dashboard.