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20 June 2017, 09:47 | Justin Tyler
Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner welcomed technology executives to the White House on Monday for an afternoon of working groups.
The federal government spends more than $80 billion annually on information technology, employing about 113,000 IT professionals, according to the White House. (In January, Schmidt told an audience of Googlers that Trump would do "evil things", citing the president's stance on immigration.) Jeff Bezos said that Trump could be the "innovation administration", while Tim Cook pressed the president on immigration and requiring coding classes in public schools. "Today, many of our agencies rely on painfully outdated technology", Trump said at an American Technology Council roundtable.
Chris Liddell, a White House official who directs the American Technology Council and is a former Microsoft and General Motors Co. chief financial officer, said on Friday the Trump administration aimed to improve government services to at least the level of the private sector.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos were among the tech leaders at the meeting, and, to some people on social media, their facial expressions said it all.
Six months after top tech CEOs met with President Trump for the first time, they came back for round two.
"Our goal is to lead a sweeping transformation of the federal government's technology that will deliver dramatically better services to citizens, stronger protection from cyberattacks", said Trump, adding that the possible changes could produce up to $1 trillion in savings over 10 years. Kushner, the son of a real estate magnate, has no experience in either technology or government, and is also shouldering the responsibility for running the president's Middle East peace initiative.
"This is not a decision I have made lightly", wrote Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America, who is also attending the White House meeting. "The question is, how much does the president bring up issues that are more controversial, or do the executives?" The federal government is a large customer for some of the companies and a potential regulator for all. In 2015, the United States government made at least 7,000 separate IT investments and some agencies were using systems that had components at least 50 years old.
But other companies have supported aspects of the Trump agenda.
The council also wanted to boost the security of the government's IT systems. In 2015, hackers exposed the personal information of 22 million people from USA government databases.
After Trump chose to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, many tech leaders took the decision to withdraw them from the White House's various advisory councils.
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