President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday (May 1) in which a new technology council will be created to modernize the information technology systems of the government.
According to a report in Reuters, the White House confirmed the executive order, saying around twenty technology chief executives will meet at the White House in the early part of June to discuss ways to improve information technology in the government.
“Americans deserve better digital services from their government. To effectuate this policy, the federal government must transform and modernize its information technology and how it uses and delivers digital services,” Trump’s executive order, dated April 28, said, reported Reuters.
Trump has already held meetings with tech executives since becoming the 45th president, including Apple, Facebook, Alphabet, IBM, Microsoft and Tesla. Uber was part of a tech council but withdrew over backlash from employees. Reuters noted the tech council will be called the American Technology Council and will be led by Chris Liddell, the former Microsoft and General Motors chief financial officer who is now the White House director of strategic initiatives. Liddell is acting as the director of the technology council.
Reuters pointed to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office last year that estimated the government spends more than $80 billion in IT annually. Spending has declined by $7.3 billion since 2010. What’s more, the report said in 2015 there were at least 7,000 separate IT investments by the U.S. government. Reuters noted the $80 billion doesn’t include Defense Department classified IT systems and 58 independent executive branch agencies. The report said the U.S. government IT is “becoming increasingly obsolete: many use outdated software languages and hardware parts that are unsupported.”
This isn’t the first executive order aimed at turning around the government. In March, President Trump signed another executive order creating the White House Office of American Innovation, which is being led by son-in-law Jared Kushner. That office is focused on tapping the ideas of business leaders and privatizing some government functions, reported Reuters.