Oval Reach: White House Plan To Bolster Building Supply Chain

The Biden-Harris Administration's 100-day review of the U.S. supply chain crisis across key sectors gives specific focus to what ails homebuilders now. Is that a good thing?

John McManus June 8th, 2021

Always a be-careful-what-you-wish-for moment.

Homebuilders clamored for Uncle Sam support amid a multi-channel shock to residential construction supply chains. Now, they're officially getting acknowledgment from on high.

Politico's Gavin Bade reports on White House actions coming out of 100-day reviews of heavily disrupted supply chains of resources critical to the U.S. economy.

The Biden administration plans to release a “comprehensive strategy” for diversifying the supply of rare earth minerals used in electronics, the official said, and assign multiple task forces to address shortages in “semiconductors, home building and construction, transportation and agriculture and food.” It also will form a new “supply chain strike force” to combat unfair trade practices from other nations.

Specifically, the Biden-Harris Administration's scoping of initiatives raise the bar of ambition sky-high and ties progress on de-risking construction and appliance global sourcing channels to improvements on the social equity and climate front as well. Here's language from the White House Fact Sheet on Supply Chain plans:

Establish a whole-of-government effort to monitor and address transitory supply chain challenges
The Administration will establish new Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to provide a whole-of-government response to address near-term supply chain challenges to the economic recovery. The Task Force will be led by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture and will focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident: homebuilding and construction, semiconductors, transportation, and agriculture and food. The Task Force will bring the full capacity of the federal government to address near-term supply/demand mismatches. It will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions—large and small, public or private—that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints.
DOC will lead a coordinated effort to bring together data from across the federal government to improve the federal government’s ability to track supply and demand disruptions and facilitate information sharing between federal agencies and the private sector to more effectively identify near term risks and vulnerabilities.

Here are a few takeaways from yesterday's White House announcement on its plans to support private and public sector capability when it comes to resilient access to critical resources, supply chain flow, and economic dynamics.

  • The White House has adopted a "stakeholder capitalism" approach to finding solutions that balance profit motivations, public health, equity, and safety, and climate stewardship. On paper, anyway, the invitation is out to the right people to meet around the table to solve for the current dislocation, and work to avert a next catastrophic shock to global supply chains.
  • Collaboration – effectively dismantling public-private sector silos – is laid out as essential to workable, sustainable processes and platforms to alleviate present bottlenecks and offset their impact on the future of materials supply.
  • Global mapping – while a good deal of focus in the White House's pursuit of solutions is on new measures to source critical materials and resources domestically, with deference and value to tribal lands and environmentally sensitive geographies, a holistic, global template, including fair trade practices comes through in the Biden-Harris framework.

Private enterprise homebuilders and their building materials, manufacturer, distributor, developer, investor, and design partners – by no means a homogenous populous on a good day – tend to be skeptical of Federal involvement in anything much other than favorable interest rate, corporate taxation, mortgage interest subsidies, and foreign trade policies that support access to expense reduction on inputs.

There'll be a thin line to navigate as to how much Uncle Sam builders and their partners want involved in securing goods, services, and labor solutions from markets here and abroad.

What are the odds the Administration's efforts and action plans can bring real-world solutions out of its grand plan for the present and future?

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John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.


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