Federal Government shutdown has the potential to chip away at supply chain visibility

To be sure, this is not the first time a shutdown has occurred, but there is a very real possibility that it could be the longest. It seems to be trending that way anyhow.

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Regardless of your political leanings, chances are better than good (or, at least, I am assuming) that you are paying attention to the ongoing government shutdown.

To be sure, this is not the first time a shutdown has occurred, but there is a very real possibility that it could be the longest. It seems to be trending that way anyhow.

While reading newspapers and watching television news, the topic of the shutdown is always above the fold and the lead story of the program. How can it not be, right? That got me thinking what it means for freight transportation, supply chain and logistics planning operations.

In short, it may not feel like much at the moment, but that certainly could change, perhaps to a very large degree, depending on the length of the shutdown.

That point was driven home in a Tweet I saw earlier today from , COO of freight transportation consultancy .

Starks wrote, or Tweeted, the following:

Planning for the future requires knowing what is happening today. The list of data that has been delayed due to the shutdown is starting to add up: 

  • Advance goods deficit
  • Advance inventories
  • Agriculture prices
  • Construction spending
  • Factory orders
  •  New-home sales”

That list is not short, and, honestly, it could probably be even longer. What’s more, each item on that list has supply chain, logistics, and freight elements tied into them.

The Tweet initially got my attention, given how much of supply chain planning and forecasting revolves around visibility. Supply chain visibility is much more than a trendy industry saying or buzzword. For most, if not all, supply chain stakeholders, it could very well be viewed as “everything” in myriad ways.

And why wouldn’t it be?

Just look at the Tweet for your answer(s). If inventories or factory orders did not catch your eye, then perhaps new-home sales or construction spending did. Either way, like I said before, there are freight transportation, logistics, and supply chain elements at work.

And the longer the federal government shutdown goes on for, the less uncertain i.e. the less visible things will continue to be. That is not good for those that come to work thinking needing to solve logistics and supply chain problems all day long…and often into the night.

What’s more, we are coming off a very strong economic year, with prospects still pretty darn good for 2019, even though many economists say it may not reach the heights of 2018. But, that could be OK, should we see more solid jobs reports, as we did last week, and GDP stays at current levels.

The federal government shutdown is more than a talking point, of course. The longer it goes, the more uncertain it makes things. Let’s hope that President Trump and Congress truly understand that. The supply chain community sure hopes so.  

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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