The coronavirus pandemic revealed serious shortcomings in the nation’s critical supplies — emergency and otherwise.
WASHINGTON (CN) — An extensive review of the U.S. supply chain, catalyzed through a February executive order by President Joe Biden came out Tuesday, outlining key areas of necessary improvement for American suppliers.
In February, shortly after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said there was a shortage of medical devices – hospital gowns, masks and other protective equipment – Biden announced a review of the supply chain through an executive order, focusing with pharmaceuticals. The report includes an examination into the supply chains of critical minerals, large-capacity batteries and semiconductors, which have become scarce globally due to a shortage of producers.
The 100-day review undertaken by various agencies runs 250 pages and makes recommendations to the federal government on how to improve supply to those key areas of the U.S. market. For example, the report advises Health and Human Services Department to use the Defense Production Act to establish a public-private consortium for manufacturing and essential medicine production.
Finding too much reliance on other nations for pharmaceutical ingredients and medication, the report said Health and Human Services will commit $60 million from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to develop platform technologies and increase manufacturing capacity for active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Turning to the production and supply of high-capacity batteries, the report advised the Department of Energy to release a national blueprint for lithium battery production, which will condense the review’s finding in a 10-year, whole-of-government plan.
The Energy Department’s Federal Energy Management Program will support the development of energy storage products by federal agencies, starting with a federal review of energy storage and evaluating the deployment of energy storage capacities at federal sites.
The Biden administration will create a task force to ferret out disruptions and snags within the U.S. supply chain, led by the Commerce, Transportation and Agriculture secretaries. Their focus will be addressing shortages in key industries where supply and demand are mismatched, including in the construction, semiconductor, transportation and agriculture industries.
The report also recommends Congress create a supply chain program focused on resiliency at the Commerce Department, backed by $50 billion to make “transformative investments” in strengthening that supply. Congress should also support another $50 billion investment to advance the domestic manufacture of semiconductors, the report states.
The report also looked at investment in the next generation of electric vehicle batteries, while advising the Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration to do more to support sector-based pathways to jobs in critical areas, like semiconductors.
Additionally, the report highlights the important of collaboration on a global scale with American partners to reach the report’s goals. In “an interconnected world,” the U.S. has a committed interest to ensuring other nations’ supply chains are interconnected, the report states.
Steve Christensen, executive director of the Responsible Batter Coalition — a group of auto industry leaders like Ford, Honda and AutoZone that advocates for sustainable battery technologies — said in a statement Tuesday the report’s results were encouraging.
“As the administration develops a strategic plan for our domestic automobile batteries supply, sustainable battery recycling programs that consider the entire life-cycle of the battery must be included to preserver and extend the life of these critical resources while also protecting our environment,” Christensen said.