Trump holds meeting with Tech CEOs regarding government challenges

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Trump holds meeting with Tech CEOs regarding government challenges

Monday marks the first meeting of the American Technology Council, which was created by the president in May with the specific aim of modernizing government communication and infrastructure in order to improve the efficiency of the federal bureaucracy.

Tesla founder Elon Musk and Disney's Robert Iger, both quit Trump's high-powered business advisory panel a few weeks ago, after the president pulled the USA out of the Paris climate accord.

While tech leaders - or their companies - have spoken out against some Trump policies, including withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Agreement and a travel ban that was later overturned, it was still a full house for Monday's meeting, where Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos were among those in attendance. "But a combination of policy realities (tech would love a good deal on tax reform, for example) and a fear of being out of the loop on other discussions (such as modernizing federal IT systems) keeps executives coming back to the table", David McCabe points out for Axios.

Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to Trump, welcomed the technology executives, calling them "a very impressive group of leaders from the private sector" being put to work "on some of the country's biggest challenges that will make a very meaningful difference to a lot of its citizens".

CEOs will bring a "plus one" from their company and join a four-hour event with ten different working sessions, each focused on a technology problem the government wants to tackle.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com also expressed opposition on Trump's travel ban.

But, they report, "White House officials say they have received an enthusiastic response from executives who see the overall effort to improve government efficiency as an apolitical goal".

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Also on hand was Trump's daughter and Kushner's wife, senior presidential adviser Ivanka Trump.

"This is not a decision I have made lightly", wrote Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America, who is also attending the White House meeting.

The meeting with almost 20 chief executives comes as the White House pushes to shrink government, cut federal employees and eliminate regulations. "They're all about the scalps in the room", said a tech industry official as quoted by the Washington Post.

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