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Aug 10 -- DOT, Supply Chain Companies Collaborate to Speed Up Movement of Goods, Cut Costs for Consumers

Today, at the Department of Transportation, Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Port Envoy Gen. Stephen Lyons will host a convening of Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) partners to advance the development of the initiative and welcome new members. The convening marks an important milestone for FLOW – the number of participants has doubled, and existing partners having begun securely sharing data with USDOT for the first time. At the convening, members who operate across our supply chains will discuss the results of their recent innovative data sharing and how it can help meet the challenges that remain.  

FLOW, which was launched in March, is a first-of-its-kind effort by the Biden-Harris Administration and supply chain companies to develop a digital tool that gives companies information on the condition of a node or region in the supply chain so that goods can be moved more quickly and cheaply, ultimately bringing down costs for families. There are now 36 participants that are a part of FLOW, which will grow over the coming months. USDOT also plans to hold listening sessions with small businesses, technology experts, and others.

https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/dot-supply-chain-companies-collaborate-speed-movement-goods-cut-costs-consumers

July 18 -- The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Department of Transportation (DOT), invites comments to OMB by July 25, 2022 on the Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) Initiative pilot phase and comments to BTS by September 16, 2022 on the full implementation of FLOW.

Over the past several years, the U.S. supply chain has struggled with unprecedented congestion under COVID-induced surges of containerized cargo through our ports and intermodal networks. In March of this year, the White House announced the launch of the Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) initiative with the Department of Transportation and the freight industry to facilitate a collaboration and sharing of intermodal trade data. This collaboration would help improve supply chain efficiencies and reduce overall costs to U.S. consumers. The FLOW initiative builds on previous work by the Administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to ensure the expeditious movement of cargo from ship to shelf.
 
FLOW is a joint endeavor between the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the freight industry aimed at improving key freight information exchange between parts of the goods movement supply chain. Data collected and exchanged will support industry collaborative demand management (CDM) decision making associated with the daily management of cargo and assets. Companies participating in FLOW will voluntarily submit relevant data; there is no regulatory requirement to submit such data.  
 
Industry partners involved with FLOW, referred to as FLOW participants, include beneficial cargo owners (BCOs), ocean carriers, non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOs), ports and terminals, motor carriers, railroads, intermodal equipment providers (IEPs), and warehousers. It is expected that the practice of sharing operational information between FLOW participants will be a source of significant benefit to the operation of the national logistics system, i.e., the complex collection of personnel, transportation assets, vessels, trucks, railcars, equipment, and any and all other freight components that comprise the United States’ supply chain system.

The first phase of the FLOW initiative is a pilot effort to develop a proof-of-concept information exchange and operationalize it to support industry decision-making. During the pilot phase, the initiative will focus on the flow of goods to and from a limited number of terminals (e.g., ports) and involve 21 participating companies. Following completion of the pilot, the program is expected to grow to include additional terminals and companies.
 
Data collected under this initiative is necessary to support the Administration’s directive to identify and operationalize an information exchange to support a more resilient and fluid supply chain. Data will be submitted by participating companies via a secure online portal. Data submitted will include purchase order forecasts, cargo bookings, vessels in-transit, marine terminal space availability, drayage truck dispatch capacity, over-the-road truck dispatch capacity, chassis availability, and warehouse capacity. These data will be used to create an index of demand over capacity that is expected to act as a leading indicator of freight congestion and supply chain performance. The index, which will help communicate the degree of oversupply or undersupply of logistics assets, is intended to support a data driven approach to balance U.S. cargo traffic demand with system capacity.

This data collection will be used to test the idea that cooperation on foundational freight digital infrastructure is in the commercial interest of private parties and the national interest of the United States. The data will serve as a proof-of-concept to evaluate operational viability and commercial desirability of such an exchange. This data will be necessary to complete the White House’s request for a report on the proof-of-concept by September 2022. The proof-of-concept will:

Define by consensus of a “minimum viable information” set;
Determine the most appropriate data governance model; and,
Select a universal standard reporting structure.

As described above, data collected will be used to create an index of demand over capacity that is expected to act as a leading indicator of freight congestion and supply chain performance. The index, which will help communicate the degree of oversupply or undersupply of logistics assets, is intended to support a data driven approach to balance U.S. cargo traffic demand with system capacity.

BTS will develop an analytical database using the reported data and other pertinent information, conduct statistical analyses, calculate the index, and develop visualization and analytical tools to facilitate the sharing of results. FLOW partners will provide information that is likely to assess supply chain risk and allocate resources to address those risks, and to engage in informed discussions among FLOW stakeholders. FLOW partners will use index information to support CDM decision making associated with the daily management of cargo and assets.  

Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) -- WH/DOT announce freight supply chain data initiative (3.15.22) https://www.aeaweb.org/forum/2443/freight-logistics-optimization-announce-freight-initiative#q2443
FLOW Pilot Phase submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202206-2138-003 Click View Supporting Statement for technical documentation.
FLOW full implementation proposal: AEAStat requested from BTS
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-15247

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