Innovation

White House new Office of American Innovation: 5 things we know

Tech leaders like Tim Cook, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk have signed on to advise the president on how to bring the benefits of private sector tech to government operations.

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Image: iStock / Ankabala

"It's been a bit bumpy, but the one real surprise [the administration] may have up our sleeve," said a White House tech spokesperson in January, "is that we might actually do some cool [tech] things."

Now there's a government bureaucracy designed to do exactly that. On Monday the White House revealed plans to create the Office of American Innovation, a new department led by the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner intended to marry private-sector innovation with federal agencies.

WATCH: Documentary shows information revolution of big data (CBS News)

The announcement neatly dovetails with the Trump administration's goal of making the government run like a business. "We should have excellence in government," Kushner told the Washington Post on Sunday. "The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens."

When asked for comment a White House spokesperson demurred on specifics but indicated that details about the new office's agenda will be revealed in the coming weeks.

SEE: IT leader's guide to Agile development (Tech Pro Research)

Here are five things TechRepublic readers should know about the Trump administration's new Office of American Innovation:

Big tech could play a big role. The administration is counseled on technology issues by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and over 100 other technology and business executives.

It's a family business. The White House Office of Innovation will be run by Jared Kushner and advised by Kushner's wife and the president's daughter Ivanka Trump, who will focus on "workforce development" issues. Though the pair are political novices, Kushner and Trump are both respected business leaders.

Experts on the team. Kushner's team will be aided by a group of economic experts, including National Economic Council director Gary Cohen, director of the Domestic Policy Council Andrew Bremberg, and former George W. Bush advisor Dina Powell.

Analytics and data are a priority. The Trump campaign credited big data for aiding last fall's upset victory. Kushner's team wants to modernize government analytics systems and use data to overhaul how government agencies work, starting with Department of Veterans Affairs.

Tackling the tech skills gap. Ivanka Trump will focus her advisory role on filling the tech skills gap. The president's daughter will likely reinforce her image as a bipartisan moderate on science and technology issues by working with Silicon Valley on gender equality policy, training a modern workforce, and integrating business technology systems with the government.

SEE: Hiring kit: Data architect (Tech Pro Research)

"All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays," Trump told the Washington Post. "I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my 'ahead of schedule, under budget' mentality to the government."

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About Dan Patterson

Dan is a Senior Writer for TechRepublic. He covers cybersecurity and the intersection of technology, politics and government.

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