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Role of Supply Chain Management in Government Settings

Supply chain and logistics management skills are transferable from industry to industry, private or public. The Fitchburg State University online Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Supply Chain Management program prepares professionals for supply chain and logistics leadership roles in both business and government environments.

The curriculum trains students for careers in transportation, logistics and distribution management within supply chain operations. It also helps students learn to use geographic information systems (GIS) for effective decision-making, including the widely used business software ArcGIS.

The Supply Chain and Critical Skills

According to Indeed, budgeting, project management, supply chain management, logistics, time management, risk management, negotiation, communication, data analysis, accounting and decision-making are key skills for supply chain management positions. Logistics Bureau highlights the importance of in-demand knowledge in the field regarding IT, automation, economics and cost-to-serve, as well as skills like flexibility and leadership.

According to Gartner, a supply chain “is a group of functions and processes focused on optimizing the flow of products, services and related information from sources of supply to customers or points of demand. It stretches across multiple tiers in the supplier network to customers and to customers of those customers. It includes supply chain planning, sourcing and procurement, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, and services within a company and its ecosystem of partners.”

Materials, services, funds and information all flow through the chain. Effective management integrates these activities to achieve specific objectives such as medical supply capacity and readiness for pandemics or improved response capabilities for natural disasters. The management challenges involved when widespread disruption impacts supply chains became very apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether in public or private positions, the best supply chain managers learn from these challenges and innovate to create more resilient, robust and agile supply chains.

What Does Public Sector Supply Chain Management Involve?

Managers and executives in government roles engage with numerous components of supply chain and logistics management. These include processes like joint planning, management of information systems, bidding, negotiation, sourcing, procurement, scheduling of supplier and distributor tasks, contracting, order processing, inventory management, warehousing, waste disposal and even customer service.

Government supply chain professionals may work closely with upstream suppliers such as raw material and service providers, information technology vendors, infrastructure contractors and logistics providers. In many cases, the stakes for supply chain management in the public sector eclipse those of the private sector, especially concerning public health and safety or the environment and air quality. Public services also rely on intricate supply chains comprising dynamic and complex processes, people management, service procurement and delivery models.

Should one choose to apply their skills in the public sector, their responsibilities may include selecting the most cost-effective and efficient suppliers, holding suppliers to performance and quality standards, following government guidelines for bidding and negotiations, and maintaining excellent vendor relationships.

Internal Agencies of the Federal Government

The government delegates logistics and supply chain activities to internal agencies that may also contract with external agencies on behalf of U.S. citizens and their needs. Internal agencies provide valuable services to the public involving infrastructure, national defense, public health and disaster response. You may be familiar with federal agencies such as:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Defense Logistics Agency
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • Department of Defense
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Department of Homeland Security

How the Complex Components Come Together

Services and resources move downstream, passing through state and local agencies, third-party distributors, providers of healthcare, military and other services. Downstream management professionals may work closely with trucking companies, airlines, carrier fleets, receiving docks, warehouses and retail outlets, as well as with payment providers.

Emergency planning is of special importance, given the increased risks associated with the pandemic, terrorism, wildfires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. A swift and effective response requires strong supply chain team governance, IT risk assessment and planning, strategic stockpile planning, education and training.

Further, because the U.S. has a role in maintaining and regulating world affairs as well as international logistics — and one of the world’s largest populations and strongest economies — it also has the world’s most complex and advanced government supply chains. In fact, supply chain management is so critical to governmental functions, citizens and private industry that the Biden administration created the White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience specifically to bolster and improve U.S. supply chains.

To keep these supply chains strong and prepared for emergencies, the government needs a system of higher education with training programs to develop the world’s best-educated supply chain professionals. Fitchburg State’s IACBE-accredited online MBA in Supply Chain Management program can be a pivotal component in meeting the needs of an increasingly complex system and its constituents.

Learn more about Fitchburg State’s online MBA in Supply Chain Management program.

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