Technology CEOs urged to join Trump initiative

Trump's American Technology Council

Trump's American Technology Council

White House adviser Jared Kushner.

The heads of Silicon Valley's largest companies are gathering at the White House today for the inaugural meeting of the new American Technology Council.

A who's who of technology names is expected to attend, including Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, CEO Jeff Bezos, Oracle Co-CEO Safra Catz and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. In December, then-president-elect had invited executives to a roundtable discussion at Trump Tower.

Technology CEOs were urged by the White House on Monday to pitch in on President Donald Trump's effort to modernize government. But so far, the White House has indicated that it does not consider the situation to be urgent. A scheduling conflict prevented the company from sending a representative, according to a person familiar with the matter. The document frames the effort as "government-as-a-service".

This is the council's first White House meeting since Trump established the tech council through executive order at the beginning of May. High-skilled immigration, a long-time priority for the industry, will be getting special attention, as will drones, robots and the growing connectivity of everyday devices such as thermostats. Senior administration officials said there will be a particular focus on modernizing government IT systems.

Trump and Vice President Pence are expected to pop-by the working sessions.

Well that was back before Trump tried to pass a travel ban on majority-Muslim countries and ordered a review of the H1-B visa program for foreign workers.

Uber's Travis Kalanick and Tesla's Elon Musk have already left a presidential advisory council over the rift.

In May, Trump created an American Technology Council, his latest effort since taking office to modernize the USA government.

Despite these clashes, the tech industry sees an opportunity.

The federal government spends over $80 billion each year on information technology and employs about 113,000 IT professionals, but suffers from outdated and inefficient systems, according to Bloomberg sources. "In this political climate, the best hope for getting things done are the things that don't make a lot of headlines". The executives were also told to bring a subject matter expert from their companies who could provide more information about the topics that the White House is the most interested in.

Still, Silicon Valley's wariness of the Trump administration is prompting some in the industry to say that a day-long series of flashy CEOs workshops is mostly for show - and no substitute for the tiresome drudgery of simply doing the work.

When asked about this issue on a conference call with reporters, a senior administration official who was involved with organizing Monday's event said there was "virtually no fallback" from the president's climate decision.

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