White House launches data initiative to help ease supply chain logjams

A fully loaded container ship sits idle in the the San Francisco Bay just outside of the Port of Oakland on March 26, 2021 in San Francisco. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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The Biden administration on Tuesday announced a new data sharing initiative that it says will help private and public entities to share key freight information and ease current supply chain difficulties.

Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) is a government-backed pilot program in which 18 entities including private businesses, trucking, warehousing and logistics companies and ports, will work to establish a proof-of-concept information exchange.

The new initiative is being led by the Department of Transportation, and the proof-of-concept will be produced by the end of the summer, according to the White House.

The policy proposal is intended to remedy COVID-19 supply chain woes that continue, despite the partial reopening of the U.S. economy last year. Cargo ships continue to wait offshore to unload amid port logjams, and transportation companies continue to report employee shortages.

Participants in the pilot initiative include: Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, Georgia Ports Authorty, MSC, FedEX and UPS. A full list of participants can be found here.

In a statement, the White House said: “DOT will lead this effort, playing the role of an honest broker and convener to bring supply chain stakeholders together to problem solve and overcome coordination challenges.”

“Supply chain stakeholders deserve reliable, predictable, and accurate information about goods movement and FLOW will test the idea that cooperation on foundational freight digital infrastructure is in the interest of both public and private parties.” It added: “FLOW is designed to support businesses throughout the supply chain and improve accuracy of information from end-to-end for a more resilient supply chain.”

The White house said it would seek feedback on the pilot initiative, and that it will launch a web page within one month to gauge industry interest in participation and data sharing with a view to expanding the scheme for the long term.

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Biden administration, COVID-19, Department of Transportation, White House
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