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Are Government Supply Chains Really that Bad?

By Steve Geary | 05/19/2018 | 2:09 PM

Gartner’s annual list of the Top 25 Supply Chains is out

Just like every year since 2010, there isn’t a single business focused on the government as a customer listed.  Is it selection bias, or are organizations operating in the government space really that bad?  As far as I can tell, the last supply chain with a government focus to make the list was Lockheed Martin in 2010, coming in at number twenty-five.

Over 95% of the population of the United States gets water from a municipal supply.  That’s a government supply chain.

We have the United States Postal Service, a prodigious capability that operates as an independent agency of the federal government.  The USPS even handles some of Amazon’s Sunday deliveries.  That’s a government supply chain.

And, of course, we have the military industrial complex.  That slice of American commerce includes highly competent companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, United Technologies, L-3 Communications, and BAE Systems.  These are just the biggest; there are lots of others.

I don’t think twice about drinking water out of a tap in any office building in America.  Making that happen requires world class supply chain chops, and those organizations are not on the Gartner list. 

I’ve received mail in towns in truly isolated US locations, simply addressed to me, General Delivery, but I don’t see the USPS on the list.

I’ve eaten fresh coffee cake sent by my wife using the US Mail in combat-zone in Southwest Asia – what the military calls an austere non-permissive environment - while at the same time eating three hot meals a day prepared for me by government contractors.  I don’t see any aspect of that supply chain reflected on the list.

Why are none of the government-centric operations or players on the Gartner list?  Are the supply chain capabilities in the government space really as mediocre as Gartner seems to imply?  Or is there some sort of unintended selection bias taking place?



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About Steve Geary

Steve Geary

Steve Geary is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Tennessee's College of Business Administration, and is on the faculty at The Gordon Institute at Tufts University, where he teaches supply chain management. He is the President of the Supply Chain Visions family of companies, and Chief Operating Officer at ROSE Solutions, consultancies that work across the government sector. Steve is a contributing editor at DC Velocity, and editor-at-large for CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly. He is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, and Who's Who in Executives and Professionals. In November of 2007, Steve was recognized for "Selfless Service to Our Nation and the People of Iraq" by the Deputy Secretary of Defense.


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