Supply Chain Disruptions – Government Solutions Working?

The White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation today announced that Retired General Stephen R. Lyons, former Commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, will be the new Port and Supply Chain Envoy to the Biden-Harris Administration Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force.

Retired General Lyons will take over the role from John D. Porcari. General Lyons will work with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the White House National Economic Council (NEC), ports, rail, trucking and other private companies across our US supply chains to continue to address bottlenecks, speed up the movement of goods, and help lower costs for people.

The Task Force was established in June of 2021 to address supply and demand mismatches that emerged in several sectors as the economy reawakened following the Administration’s vaccination and economic relief efforts. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg leads the Task Force focus on ports and trucking issues, among others. The Task Force’s leadership also includes Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on food and agriculture and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on home-building and semiconductors.

For the past year, the Biden-Harris Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force has been working with US ports and private companies to address immediate supply chain bottlenecks and “ultimately build a more resilient, globally competitive goods movement chain for the 21st century,” the White House said.

The Task Force has worked with ports to propose a container dwell fee to reduce congestion at the ports, launched a trucking action plan to recruit and retain more drivers, funded pop-up container yards to get goods from ships to shelves faster while supporting agricultural exporters, moved supply chain operators toward 24/7 operations, and launched a data sharing effort, Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW), with Target, FedEx, UPS, True Value, ocean shippers, ports and additional stakeholders to reduce shipping costs and ultimately consumer costs at the store.

Together, these actions are leading to progress. “Long-dwelling containers at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach have dropped by about 50 percent since the proposed fee. The total number of container ships waiting to enter U.S. ports has dropped by nearly 50% since peaking in early February – even as containerized imports increased for most ports in March. And both the Ports of LA and Long Beach had record months in April in terms of container throughput. In addition, 2021 was the best trucking employment year since 1994. Goods are successfully being delivered to shelves and inventories excluding autos are at their highest levels in history. Further, USDOT has put out historic investments in the tens of billions to upgrade our aging infrastructure,” DOT said.

“In the long term, the implementation of the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will finally make the investments needed in our ports, railways, highways, and other modes of transportation to improve our supply chain infrastructure.” In May, USDOT announced the most annual funding from DOT’s Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) in Departmental history and earlier this year announced the most funding for Marine Highways in American history.

“Envoy John Porcari has done a tremendous job addressing challenges at every stage of the supply chain, and goods have moved more quickly and affordably because of his actions,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, without giving a reason he left after less than one year. As Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Transportation in the Obama-Biden administration (2009-2014), Porcari was directly involved in overseeing port, intermodal, maritime policy and maritime-related competitive grant programs throughout the United States. In a previous role, serving twice as Secretary of Transportation for the State of Maryland and Chairman of the Maryland Port Commission (1999-2003 and 2006-2009).

General Lyons Biography

Retired General Stephen R. Lyons took command August 24, 2018, becoming the 13th commander of U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), one of 11 Combatant Commands in the Department of Defense. USTRANSCOM’s mission is to project and sustain military power globally in order to assure our friends and allies, deter potential adversaries, and if necessary respond to win decisively. Lyons’ experience spans 36 years of military service in positions of progressive leadership responsibility. Lyons is married to Maureen Lyons and they have two children, Kara, and Dylan.

A native of Rensselaer, New York, Lyons graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army in 1983. He holds two master’s degrees, one from the Naval Postgraduate School in logistics management (1993); and a second from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in national resource strategy (2005). His awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and the Master Parachutist Badge.

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