President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he wants to see a sweeping transformation of the federal government’s technology, whilst speaking to top technology executives from Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.
According to Recode, in a meeting with the White House’s American Technology Council, Trump conceded that federal agencies desperately needed to catch up with the private sector when it comes to technology. His comments drew praise from tech leaders attending the council, including Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
Trump told the tech CEOs that federal agencies needed to deliver “dramatically better services to citizens” by using more efficient and cheaper technology to provide “stronger protections from cyber attacks.”
The president chartered the American Technology Council in May with a broad mandate to bring the federal government into the digital age, including converting paper-based forms into easy-to-use websites, for example, while helping the government buy better technology and take advantage of new tools like artificial intelligence. During his meetings with the aforementioned tech leaders, the president reportedly called upon them to ask for the industry’s help in improving federal technology usage.
The tech leaders had their own requests for the president, too, however. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos – who has been a vocal critic of Trump in the past – called on the U.S. government to take advantage of commercial technology, much like those provided by his own company and others sat at the table. Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged Trump’s claims that the government needed to modernize and urged the president to ensure that coding becomes a requirement in schools, an issue that Cook has been incredibly vocal about in the past.
— Mashable (@mashable) June 20, 2017
Whilst Trump and the tech leaders definitely appeared to be in agreement on Monday, his relationship with most of them has been somewhat icy in the past. Most recently, the industry leaders condemned the president’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from an international climate agreement. In fact, the move led Elon Musk, the leader of SpaceX and Tesla, to skip the summit despite sources having previously claimed that he planned to attend alongside other tech CEOs.
The White House continues to downplay any tension between the administration and tech giants, especially after many of them, including Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Alphabet, backed Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that their political differences wouldn’t hinder their working together.
“I think it’s pretty telling that the president brings these kind of people together,” he said. “We will work with individuals, regardless of what their past political beliefs are, to further the president’s agenda and to bring ideas to the table.”
— POLITICO (@politico) June 19, 2017
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]