Bipartisan task force identifies six major challenges facing U.S. production and supply chains

November 17, 2021

WASHINGTON & CHICAGO—A bipartisan task force convened by The Reagan Institute’s Center for Peace Through Strength recently identified six major challenges to revitalizing the competitiveness of American manufacturing, and proposed four key policy recommendations to address these challenge, according to a release from the Institute.

The Institute’s Task Force on National Security and U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness presented its findings and recommendations in a report titled “A Manufacturing Renaissance: Bolstering U.S. Production for National Security and Economic Prosperity.” The Task Force includes leaders and experts in the fields of national security, manufacturing, capital, supply chains, and public policy.

Challenges identified by the Task Force include a significant skills gap, unsatisfactory productivity gains, inadequate investment in infrastructure, a fragile supplier ecosystem, insufficient coordination among government actors, and inadequate architecture for international competition. To overcome these challenges, the Task Force developed four policy recommendations aimed at boosting the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing.

The first recommendation is to scale up workforce development programs to credential more workers for high-demand trades. The Task Force recommended expanding employers’ roles in workforce training by repurposing existing federal education grants to allow high school graduates to earn credentialed skills. U.S. manufacturers should commit to fund 500,000 new graduates of trade school and apprenticeship programs over the next decade, according to the release.

The Task Force also recommended standing up a public-private capability to finance investments in domestic manufacturing sectors that are critical to national security. It called on the federal government to develop the capability to work with private sector employers, as well as state and local governments, to provide liquidity and low-cost capital to critical domestic manufacturers and infrastructure.

Another key recommendation is to modernize the Defense Production Act for the 21st Century. The U.S. must update the DPA to enable holistic solutions for critical manufacturing facilities, such as targeted visa approvals for STEM talent, direct project financing, automatic fast-tracking of permits, and investments in workforce training, according to the Task Force.

Also recommended is the establishment of a new forum of G7 + Quad countries to coordinate on geo-economic issues. The United States should establish a new forum to promote enhanced coordination on topics like growth, data governance, technology standards, and supply chain security, according to the release.

The Task Force was co-chaired by Marillyn Hewson, former chairman, president, and CEO of Lockheed Martin, and David McCormick, CEO of Bridgewater Associates and a former Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs.

“The economic and national security threat from China cannot be ignored,” said Hewson, in a statement. “There is bipartisan support to take action, and this report identifies steps that we can take to strengthen and leverage investments in infrastructure, facilities, technology, and most importantly, people.”

The final report and recommendations of the Task Force are available here.

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that we can no longer afford to neglect the resiliency of our supply chains and defer capital investment in national security-critical sectors,” said McCormick, in a statement. “The pandemic also demonstrated the creative potential inherent in America’s economy. By investing in that potential, we can rebuild a world-class manufacturing sector that helps to keep our country safe.”

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