U-M professor: White House plans to improve supply chains comprehensive, challenge will be in execution

December 4, 2023
Concept illustration of a well-managed supply chain of goods. Image credit: Nicole Smith, made with Midjourney


As a member of a global supply chain task force, Ravi Anupindi has seen the snarls in the flow of goods and services, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team produced a report and some of its major recommendations included the need for a national coordinating body for preparedness and response, establishing a national supply chain institute for research and maintaining vigilance, and investing in next-generation solutions, training for preparedness and response.

Ravi Anupindi
Ravi Anupindi

The professor of operations research and management and faculty director of the Center for Value Chain Innovation at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is pleased to see some of the recommendations being put into practice by the Biden administration, which recently announced the creation of a White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience.

Anupindi, who also submitted written testimony to the Senate Homeland Security Committee calling for the need to develop such capabilities, highlights some of the White House’s stated steps and goals and offers his thoughts on them.

On the creation of the Council on Supply Chain Resilience:

“This is much needed. COVID-19 highlighted the vulnerability of our supply chains and its implications of national and economic security, our lack of adequate preparedness and a fragmented response.

“The council rightly takes the whole-of-government to continuously monitor, prevent, prepare for and respond to disruptions that may impact national and economic security with potential to consolidate federal resources and plans.”

On plans to create a new Supply Chain Center, leveraging the Defense Production Act to mitigate shortages of drugs and critical foods and improving collaboration and coordination among agencies and sectors:

“While there are several firms with best-in-class risk and resiliency programs, a firm-level resiliency does not guarantee the resiliency and security of a nation. And yet developing preparedness and response capabilities across a range of critical sectors and to maintain eternal vigilance is an enormous task.

“The announcement has identified several key capabilities needed and rightly identifies relevant agencies to spearhead these efforts. What will be needed is a plan to ensure coordination and collaboration across the different agencies and effective collaboration with the private sector to ensure better preparedness and coordinated response and avoid fragmentation.”

On the goal to deepen engagement with allies and partners:

“Modern supply chains are global. COVID-19 showed that our supply chains are also fragile, highlighting the need for resiliency. Deeper engagement with allies and partners is to recognize the role of multiple nations in supply chains and coordinate with them for ensuring resiliency.

“There are several initiatives and partnerships mentioned, so once again clearly identifying where coordination across some of these sets of partnerships is needed will be critical.”

On the overall effort:

“The overall plan is comprehensive and consistent with what we had recommended to enable better preparedness planning and mitigation actions, as well as to facilitate faster response to disruption events and adapt to longer-term impacts. The challenge going forward will be execution and coordination across agencies and partners.”