From upgrading slow, outdated websites to streamlining how veterans receive their health benefits, the administration said it wanted to hear ideas from leaders including Apple chief executive Tim Cook, Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos (who also owns The Washington Post), Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella and Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent, Alphabet.
They will be meeting with the heads of some federal agencies looking for input on how to use technology to improve their work.
Tech executives in attendance also lobbied the president on high skill immigration reform, Microsoft CEO Brad Smith tweeted following the meeting. “There was strong messaging from the President in this regard that he gets it”, he continued, noting that the president wants to see this “get resolved”.
Monday’s ceremonies were led by White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and Assistant to the President Chris Liddell.
Kushner is personally leading the effort to bring the government’s IT into the 21st century.
“Before I came to Washington, many warned me the bureaucracy would resist any change that we tried to implement”, he said.
A 2016 US Government Accountability Office report estimated the US government spent more than $80 billion in IT annually, excluding classified operations.
The meeting with almost 20 chief executives comes as the White House pushes to shrink government, cut federal employees and eliminate regulations.
The meeting Monday brought leaders of an industry whose key figures have at times openly clashed with Trump. Nu Wexler, a spokesman for Facebook, said this was due to a “scheduling conflict”.
In February of a year ago, he called for a boycott on Apple products after the company declined to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation a backdoor into the San Bernardino shooter’s encrypted iPhone.
Also missing at the meeting was Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, who recently quit Trump’s economic advisory council after Trump made a decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord – a move that many tech executives criticised. The meeting kicks off a week of administration events themed on technology. Look, no one is going to agree with everything you do, none of us do. MORE during the election.
But while the substance of the day’s agenda may have been focused on wonky policy issues, some in the tech industry went into the meeting acutely aware of a tension that has become more pronounced since that early winter meeting. He said there was “a lot of room for optimization in the federal government”.
Apple CEO Tim Cook praised the White House for focusing on improving its technology, which he said would be an investment that would quickly pay off. “We’re going to be working on it, and we’re going to solve the problem”.
This story was updated at 8:26 p.m.