On April 13, the US Department of Defense (“DOD”) published a request for comments on the strategic and critical materials supply chain under the America’s Supply Chains Executive Order (the “Supply Chain EO“) that President Biden signed on February 24, 2021.  (See our blog post on the Supply Chain EO for more background.)  Strategic and critical materials, which include rare earth elements and other minerals and metals used in laptops, cell phones, and other technologies, are one of the four supply chains subject to a 100-day review period under the Supply Chain EO.  By the end of that 100-day review, the Supply Chain EO directs the relevant US government agencies to produce reports identifying supply chain vulnerabilities and proposing policy recommendations to address those vulnerabilities. 

As part of these efforts, the DOD is requesting comments, which are due on April 28.  DOD is looking for comments on a range of areas, including, among other things, comments related to increasing transparency, diversifying sources, reducing exposure to price volatility and supply shocks, availability of manufacturing substitutes and capabilities, and R&D priorities.  The DOD specifically requests comments on policy recommendations to foster more resilient supply chains.  Companies in this supply chain, including companies that mine or source these items, should consider taking advantage of this opportunity to provide input into the policymaking process.

The DOD is the second US federal government agency charged with conducting a 100-day review to issue a request for comments under the Supply Chain EO.  The first agency to do so was the Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) in the US Commerce Department, which issued a request for comments for the semiconductor supply chain, in addition to hosting a virtual forum last week as an additional outreach effort to gather input from industry and other stakeholders.  (See our prior blog post on these developments.)  We have not yet heard from the Department of Energy, which is responsible for the 100-day review for the high-capacity batteries supply chain (including electric vehicle batteries), or the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for the pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients supply chain.  We may see similar requests for comment or other outreach efforts from these agencies soon.

Key Takeaways

DOD has issued a request for comments on vulnerabilities and policy recommendations related to the supply chain in strategic and critical materials, which includes rare earth elements.  Comments are due on April 28.  Companies participating in this supply chain should consider taking advantage of this opportunity to have a voice in US supply chain policy by assessing the vulnerabilities in their supply chains and submitting comments to the DOD.


Kerry Contini is a partner in the Firm's International Trade Practice Group in Washington, DC. Kerry focuses her practice on export controls, trade sanctions, and antiboycott laws. This includes advising US and multinational companies on trade compliance programs, risk assessments, licensing, review of proposed transactions, and enforcement matters. Ms. Contini works regularly with companies across a wide range of industries, including the pharmaceutical/medical device, oil and gas, and nuclear sectors.