Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, led the inaugural meeting of the American Technology Council at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House. He told the high-powered attendees that government must “unleash the creativity of the private sector” while also eliminating antiquated technology. In remarks to the conference, Kushner said that the Department of Defense, for example, is still using outdated floppy disks for some of its legacy systems and is still checking for Y2K compliance.
On Monday, tech execs conferred with Kushner on modernizing government operations. Kushner, who counsels the president through the White House Office of American Innovation, said he wants to add "business sensibility" to governance. "We will unleash the creativity of the private sector to provide citizen services in a way that has never happened before," Kushner said.
Among those attending were Peter Thiel of the Founders Fund, as well as Apple CEO Tim Cook, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
Kushner said that he is working in concert with government employees to eliminate outdated policies and systems that have stymied modernization at the Department of Veterans Affairs and DoD, for instance. Some of the systems in use are 56 years old, he said. "By modernizing these systems we will meaningfully improve the lives of tens of millions of Americans," Kushner said. "We have already begun to seen many improvements," Kushner said.
The summit focused especially on cybersecurity and “cloud” internet shared processing. Currently, the government has in excess of 6,000 data centers and spends $86 billion a year on technology, which is at a cost many times greater than that paid by the private sector.