Biden Administration Begins Investigating Shipping Bottlenecks


Following U.S. President Biden’s goal of alleviating concerns in the shipping industry and improving supply chains in a bid to improve the nation’s infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Transportation has started to investigate recent shipping delays and issues.

In a message on its website and within the Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Transportation is seeking comments from interested stakeholders on recent issues facing the industry. Stakeholders include shipping carriers, shipping customers, brokers, facilitators, port workers, and more. The DOT is aiming to alleviate many concerns of ongoing, dangerous delays for shipping from different groups. Recent issues the DOT is looking at include both container shortages and chassis shortages, among other bottleneck-causing issues.

The DOT is looking to close bottlenecks and alleviate overall issues by looking at various areas.

The areas being explored as part of the DOT review include issues with chassis and containers, other port/distribution capacity issues, and the underlying reasons why these shortages have happened and are continuing to happen. Additionally, the DOT is asking stakeholders to identify different chokepoints causing bottlenecks at ports (both inland and marine), intermodal infrastructure, warehouses, shipping/receiving points, container ships, and more. The reviews include potentially looking into port management officials’ decision-making, too.

The DOT is also interested in looking into several unique areas with their own concerns and potential issues. One area is third-party logistics (3PL) companies, which are increasing becoming more involved in shipping operations for a variety of different types of companies. Another area is technology – specifically cybersecurity and associated risks. The DOT wants to understand how technological risks and cyber crime are potentially delaying the supply chain and creating bottlenecks.

All of the actions arise from a Biden executive order earlier this year.

This past February, newly-inaugurated President Biden created a supply chain task force seeking to improve the nation’s infrastructure in ways that don’t require Congressional approval. After being formed in June, the Biden-Harris Administration Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force is currently investigating the issues we have listed in this article. Other issues may arise as a result of the investigation. Following the investigation, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation will have to provide a Supply Chain Assessment to President Biden.

Although the Task Force was ordered in February, supply chain issues have only exacerbated themselves since then, with issues like the Suez Canal crisis and COVID resurgences further complicating matters. Time will tell if the Task Force helps fix issues or just postpones further action to the U.S. Congress and other stakeholders.