Trump's technology summit draws big names

Claudine Rigal
Juin 20, 2017

President Trump promised "sweeping transformation" in the federal government's use of technology as he welcomed top executives from numerous world's largest tech companies to the White House.

Before meeting with Trump, the CEOs met in 10 small group sessions with Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, along with the presidents of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ohio State University.

"I'm absolutely convinced that during your administration there is going to be a huge explosion of new opportunities because of the platforms that are getting built in our industry", Schmidt said to Trump after the meeting, as over a dozen CEOs went around the table to make comments after the meeting.

Like the Obama administration, Trump's White House has been looking for ways to use technology to streamline government and supercharge its features for citizens.

In May, Trump asked lawmakers to cut $3.6 trillion in government spending over the next decade, taking aim at healthcare and food assistance programs for the poor in a budget that also boosted spending on defense. He said there was "a lot of room for optimization in the federal government". They are expected to discuss different issues including shrinking the government, reducing federal employees, improving government services, and eliminating regulations among others.

The White House used the day to tout their efforts far. And there is potential to use the day's meetings to broach more sensitive subjects, according to attendees and those who work with tech companies on government issues.

Alphabet Inc Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, center, listens as White House senior adviser Jared Kushner speaks at the opening session of the White House meeting with technology Chief Executive Officers to mark "technology week", Monday, June 19, 2017, in the Indian Treat Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington.

He signed a separate order in March to overhaul the federal government and tapped Kushner to lead a White House Office of American Innovation to leverage business ideas and potentially privatize some government functions. A Facebook spokesman told The Hill that the company was not at the summit due to a scheduling conflict, though they were invited to attend. CEO Satya Nadella, Amazon.com Inc.

"The US should have the most modern government in the world". In 2015, the USA government made at least 7,000 separate IT investments and some agencies were using systems that had components at least 50 years old. "This structure is unsustainable", Kushner said.

Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner welcomed technology executives to the White House on Monday for an afternoon of working groups.

"We're working very diligently with everybody, including Congress, on immigration so that you can get the people you want in your companies", the president said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told Trump that computer coding should be a required subject in every public school and that "the USA should have the most modern government in the world, and today it doesn't".

The council also seeks to boost the cyber security of U.S. government IT systems and wants to learn from private-sector practices.

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