Tesla CEO Elon Musk made headlines earlier this month when he stepped down from two of Donald Trump’s business advisory councils in the wake of the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords. But if Musk thought his stance would trigger a larger trend of Trump avoidance among the nation’s CEOs, it appears he was mistaken. Earlier this week, the heads of 18 U.S. technology companies — including Apple, Amazon and Microsoft — met with the president to brainstorm ways to modernize the government’s computer systems.
Per a report from Reuters, President Trump says he wants to “lead a sweeping transformation of the federal government’s technology that will deliver dramatically better services for citizens.” He correctly points out that government “needs to catch up with the technology revolution.” And in what may be a borderline miraculous development given today’s divisive political climate, some of the biggest players in the tech world appear ready to work with Trump to achieve that goal.
The Trump administration has made no bones about its desire to reduce the size of government, shrink the federal workforce and roll back regulations. To that end, the president in March tapped his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to head the White House’s Office of Innovation, which is tasked with leveraging business ideas and looking for ways to privatize various functions. According to Business Insider, the administration estimates that the government could save up to $1 trillion over a decade by aggressively cutting information technology costs, improving IT systems, maximizing government buying power, and rooting out fraud across federal agencies.
In addition to the Office of Innovation, President Trump has also created the American Technology Council in order to boost efforts to modernize the government, which would help combat fraud. As Business Insider reports, hackers exposed the personal information of 22 million people from U.S. government databases in 2015, and a 2016 government audit found that Medicaid alone was hit with $29 billion in fraud in a single year.
During the meeting, Trump called the tech executives “special people” who are “on the absolute cutting edge of innovation.” Despite clashes between Mr. Trump and the tech world in recent months, at least some of the execs said they were on board for the common good.
“At the end of the day, I’m not a person who’s going to walk away and say, ‘If you don’t do what I want, I leave,’” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a recent interview about working with the Trump administration. “I care deeply about America. I want America to do well. America’s more important than bloody politics, from my point of view.”