Washington Waves
Washington Waves

FLOW Publishes Data On Supply Chains

Washington, D.C.—The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a new milestone when its first-of-its-kind supply chain initiative began publishing data on inland freight hubs to provide members with an enhanced view of future container import volumes and traffic.

Named Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW), the initiative includes the five largest U.S. container ports, seven of the largest ocean carriers and nine of the 20 largest retailers by imports, and it has more than 60 companies in the onboarding process.

DOT cited recent analysis showing that supply chain improvements and reduced shipping costs resulted in more than 80 percent of reduction in inflation in the U.S. economy.

“Two years ago, we launched FLOW, the first public-private platform of its kind to share data on supply chains in order to help goods move quickly and cheaply,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

“The Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to strengthen American supply chains have helped reduce inflation from pandemic peaks—and today, with the expansion of FLOW, we expect to see even greater benefits to American families and businesses.”

Through FLOW, DOT said it collects, aggregates and anonymizes key information shared by participants on inbound containerized freight, starting with importer purchase orders, and aligns future demand volumes against current regional capacity to move ocean containers.

DOT said it and supply chain stakeholders are applying lessons learned from the pandemic-caused disruptions as it helps manage changes in freight traffic resulting from the Houthi attacks against vessels in the Red Sea as well as the reduction of traffic in the Panama Canal due to drought conditions.

Appropriations Agreement

Leaders announced a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on the final six appropriations bills for fiscal year 2024 to avoid a partial government shutdown and keep all federal agencies funded through September.

Reached with less than a week left before a weekend deadline, this agreement covers Defense, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Labor-Education, Legislative Branch and State and Foreign Operations. Even though the minibus includes only half of the 12 annual appropriations bills, it would provide about 70 percent of the funding for the entire federal government.

Leaders in both chambers remained optimistic about the odds the minibus would be passed before the Friday night deadline.

Coast Guard Authorization

A key House committee advanced bills to authorize Coast Guard programs and address the movement of critical cargo through ports and marine terminals during supply chain challenges.

H.R. 7659, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2024, passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee by a vote of 53 to 3 and now heads to the full House. Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) introduced the bill, which also has the support of Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), the panel’s ranking member.

Both men addressed the measure’s provisions to hold the Coast Guard accountable for protecting members of the service from sexual harassment and assault.

Several hours later, Commandant Linda Fagan addressed that controversy during her State of the Coast Guard address.

Graves also singled out provisions in the bill on ensuring maritime safety and increasing the pool of qualified U.S. merchant mariners.

By a voice vote, the committee also advanced H.R. 6140, the Facilitating Access to Swiftly Transport Goods during a Publicly Announced State of Emergency Situation Act (FAST PASS Act).

“When America faces emergencies like hurricanes and pandemics, our supply chains must be ready to respond,” said Rep. Mike Ezell (R-Miss.), who introduced the bill that directs the Department of Transportation to report to Congress on expediting the movement of critical cargo through ports and marine terminals.

Work-Life Balance

The Maritime Administration (MarAd) and the U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System has scheduled a symposium on work-life balance for mariners on April 16 in Washington, D.C.

Set to begin at 9 a.m., the symposium is to be presented at the Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, in Washington, D.C.

“The conversation will feature two panels focused on enhancing the mariner work-life balance, covering topics that will include career progression, training, early exodus from sailing and much more,” MarAd stated.

Seating is expected to be limited, the agency said, adding that in-person and virtual options will be available for the panel discussions. Breakout sessions with industry leaders, academics, seasoned mariners, prospective new entrants and others will be in-person only, the agency said.

To register, go to MarinerWork-LifeBalanceSymposium@dot.gov.

For additional information, contact c.stavropoulos@dot.gov.