use information, outsourcing background work traditionally supplied by congressional and executive branch agencies. In turn, the growing distance between policymakers and these executive branch agencies whose programs generate the data used by external information suppliers to create customized information products, is putting these agencies' budgets at risk and reducing the capacity for intramural and extramural evaluation of federal health care programs.


With the advent of JIT strategies, the process of supplying information to health policymakers is taking on characteristics of the Japanese manufacturing process. U.S. policymakers and Japanese automakers are using JIT strategies to manage excess supply, shorten production time, increase flexibility, spread their risk to suppliers, and reduce cost. Just as the JIT manufacturing strategy has helped Japanese manufacturers expand their market share, policymakers using the JIT strategy are seeking a competitive edge for influencing policy proposals and political agendas. A look at how JIT manufacturing works at Toyota, the most cited example of the widespread use of the JIT strategy in manufacturing, highlights the attractive features of these strategies: reducing excess supply, timeliness, more flexibility, shared risk, and reduced cost (Schonberger, 1982).

A Response to Excess Supply

Japanese manufacturers adopted the JIT strategy when they realized that their suppliers had overproduced the required products and created an excess capacity (Schonberger, 1982). When steel-makers overproduced steel, Japanese manufacturers decided that they no longer needed to stock steel or make their own components to keep their production times from being slowed by gaps in the supply of steel parts. Although eliminating their stock increased manufacturers' dependence on their suppliers, they compensated

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