Jared Kushner Was Tasked With Reforming Government Technology. Silicon Valley Is Coming to Help
The White House on Monday will convene top technology industry leaders in Washington in an attempt to accelerate innovation during the Trump Administration.
The event is the first for the so-called American Technology Council, and was organized by the White House Office of American Innovation, which is helmed by White House Senior Adviser and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. The sessions will focus on methods of modernizing government technology and increasing cybersecurity measures.
The event is the first to be launched under the American Technology Council, which Trump established by executive order in May. The President, who serves as chairman of the council, is expected to appear during a session at the end of the day; Vice President Mike Pence will participate in sessions throughout the day.
The event will include 10 working sessions, or “streams” on a range of topics such as cybersecurity, federal talent retention, and reforming the H-1B visa program, which has been a point of contention with some CEO’s in Silicon Valley, who rely on the program for foreign workers. The goal of the sessions, which take place over the course of four hours, aim to achieve three objectives: improve government technology services, some of which the official described as “decades out of date;” decrease government spending in IT and other technology sectors, which the administrations estimates could save as much as $1 trillion over the next decade; and increase cybersecurity efforts for federal government systems.
As of Sunday afternoon, the White House had not released a list of expected attendees. Bloomberg previously reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz are expected to attend.
“This is the beginning of a multi-year process,” said a senior Trump administration official who briefed reporters in a call on Friday. “But we have to start now. And this day we believe will be a significant one in terms of generating ideas and potential solutions to some of the problems.”
The White House says it provided invitees with discussion topics and questions in advance so they would have time to prepare their responses. Each CEO was also invited to bring what the official described as a “plus one” to the event who has expertise on these topics.
The event is not the first time that the Trump administration sought to woo Silicon Valley’s finest. In December, ahead of his inauguration, Trump held a meeting with technology CEOs at Trump Tower in New York City. The President’s relationship with Silicon Valley has at times been strained; many top tech executives disagree with his policies and supported rival candidate Hillary Clinton during the campaign. For example, Trump’s decision to remove the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, a pact to increase measures to control climate change, caused Tesla CEO Elon Musk to resign his positions on White House advisory boards.
The White House official insisted that there has been “virtually no fallback” from Trump’s Paris Agreement decision. The CEOs attending the summit are united with the administration in pushing Trump’s initiative forward, the official said.
“There are different things that need to get done in the country,” the official told reporters. “And even the people who didn’t vote for the President, didn’t support the President, were against the President, they’ve been very involved because they want to see the country succeed. And that’s really what the day is about.”