Trump wel­comes tech­nol­ogy ex­ec­u­tives

Goal was to en­cour­age in­no­va­tion, ef­fi­ciency

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAVE BOYER

De­spite a rocky re­la­tion­ship with the tech world, Pres­i­dent Trump and se­nior ad­viser Jared Kush­ner wel­comed ex­ec­u­tives of some of Amer­ica’s big­gest tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies to the White House on Mon­day to en­cour­age pri­vate-sec­tor so­lu­tions to gov­ern­ment prob­lems.

Mr. Trump said the as­sem­bled group of CEOs rep­re­sent more than $3.5 tril­lion in value at their re­spec­tive com­pa­nies, and that their know-how will help the gov­ern­ment stream­line its in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sys­tems and make ser­vices more ef­fi­cient.

“Our goal is to lead a sweep­ing trans­for­ma­tion of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s tech­nol­ogy that will de­liver dra­mat­i­cally bet­ter ser­vices for cit­i­zens, stronger pro­tec­tion from cy­ber­at­tacks,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re em­brac­ing big change, bold think­ing, and out­sider per­spec­tives to trans­form gov­ern­ment and make it the way it should be, and at far less cost.”

Mr. Kush­ner, the pres­i­dent’s son-in-law who is lead­ing the ef­fort, said the gov­ern­ment has 6,100 data cen­ters that can be con­sol­i­dated, and that some data sys­tems are more than 50 years old.

“To­gether we will un­leash the cre­ativ­ity of the pri­vate sec­tor to pro­vide cit­i­zen ser­vices in a way that has never hap­pened be­fore,” Mr. Kush­ner told the group. “We are here to im­prove the day-to-day lives of the av­er­age cit­i­zen.”

The group in­cluded in­dus­try lead­ers who have been at odds with Mr. Trump over his im­mi­gra­tion and cli­mate poli­cies. Apple CEO Tim Cook has crit­i­cized Mr. Trump for his or­der tem­po­rar­ily ban­ning travel from six Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries and for pulling the U.S. out of the Paris cli­mate treaty.

Al­pha­bet Inc. Chair­man Eric Sch­midt, who also at­tended, was an in­flu­en­tial sup­porter of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. He told an au­di­ence of Google em­ploy­ees a week af­ter Mr. Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion that the ad­min­is­tra­tion “is go­ing to do these evil things as they’ve done in the im­mi­gra­tion area and per­haps some oth­ers.”

White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer said the event showed that Mr. Trump is ea­ger to work with any­one on the left to make gov­ern­ment more ef­fi­cient and save tax­pay­ers money.

“I think it’s pretty telling that the pres­i­dent brings these kind of peo­ple to­gether,” Mr. Spicer said. “We will work with in­di­vid­u­als, re­gard­less of what their past po­lit­i­cal be­liefs are, to fur­ther the pres­i­dent’s agenda and to bring ideas to the ta­ble.”

One who didn’t at­tend was Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who quit two pres­i­den­tial ad­vi­sory coun­cils ear­lier this month af­ter Mr. Trump an­nounced that he would with­draw the U.S. from the Paris cli­mate agree­ment.

Among the other at­ten­dees were Ama­zon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Be­zos, Mi­crosoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella, Or­a­cle Co-CEO Safra Catz and IBM Corp. CEO Ginni Rometty.

Mr. Trump cre­ated the Amer­i­can Tech­nol­ogy Coun­cil by ex­ec­u­tive or­der on May 1, call­ing for an over­haul of tech­nol­ogy sys­tems in the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, which spends about $80 bil­lion an­nu­ally on such ser­vices.

Mr. Kush­ner pointed to the ex­am­ple of the an­nounce­ment ear­lier this month that the De­part­ment of Veter­ans Af­fairs will switch to the same soft­ware sys­tem used by the Pen­tagon for its elec­tronic health records. That move is ex­pected to cost well over $5 bil­lion and will take sev­eral years to im­ple­ment, and is aimed at mak­ing veter­ans’ ser­vices more seam­less and faster.

“We will fos­ter a new set of start ups fo­cused on gov-tech and be a global leader in the field mak­ing gov­ern­ment more trans­par­ent and re­spon­sive to cit­i­zens’ needs,” Mr. Kush­ner said, adding that VA Sec­re­tary David Shulkin will have a sim­i­lar “very big” an­nounce­ment on Fri­day.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

White House se­nior ad­viser Jared Kush­ner met with tech­nol­ogy ex­ec­u­tives at the White House to mark “tech­nol­ogy week.” Some CEOS, how­ever, were ab­sent.

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