As noted in this space previously, the administration of President Joe Biden has begun as many recent presidencies have: With a slew of executive orders that help craft the regulatory shape of the federal government. It's worth noting that the Biden administration is going where others have not, issuing a number of EOs specifically targeted at strengthening the American supply chain.

Of course, other presidents in recent years have not come into power during a global pandemic that highlighted all the shortcomings of a truly global supply chain, and made clear how much work needed to be done to shore things up at home to ensure the country can handle major disruptions in the future. One such EO includes directives on how the federal government should lay the groundwork for a more sustainable public health supply chain. After all, the lack of easily available medical equipment was a major problem in the early days of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the fact is that the outbreak is still a major issue even as the vaccine is being rolled out to tens of millions of people nationwide.

The U.S. health supply chain has a long way to go.The U.S. health supply chain has a long way to go.

In fact, much of the EO is directly related to ensuring the U.S. government can "act urgently and effectively to combat the [COVID] pandemic," including immediately securing more of the supplies needed to get the outbreak under control, and distribute as much as is possible to state, local, tribal and territorial governments and private health care concerns.

A welcome response
After the relatively poor progress made in the U.S.'s fight against the coronavirus over the previous year, those within the procurement sector were pleased with the Biden administration's swift action to address the issue, according to the Association for Supply Chain Management. A big reason for this praise is the Biden administration was careful to loop industry decision-makers and experts into the process of identifying areas of weakness in the national supply chain, and recommend best practices to address them. 

"As we've seen it's very difficult to address this pandemic on a city-by-city, state-by-state basis," the ASCM said in its statement. "We applaud this executive order calling to maximize public-private partnerships among government, healthcare, manufacturing and supply chain/logistics professionals to work together."

Putting the plan in action
Of course, there is a big difference between signing an executive order and putting together an effective plan to address the nation's shortcomings on this front, let alone actually seeing that plan through to completion, according to long-time health care executive Jack Bernard, writing for the Fayetteville Observer. Even as things have rolled out in the time since the EO was signed, it's clear that some states are handling the pandemic (and vaccine administration) far better than others, and this is not going to be an issue that will be solved in short order.

Time is obviously of the essence when it comes to dealing with the pandemic and inoculating enough people to bring national infection rates down to more manageable levels. As such, those in the health care supply chain may need to be more proactive about enacting changes to their operations.

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