President Donald Trump will unveil Monday an executive branch SWAT team tasked with streamlining the federal bureaucracy according to a senior administration official.
The White House Office of American Innovation, led by Jared Kushner, reports directly to the President and seeks out efficiencies in government functions – perhaps even privatize some.
“We should have excellence in government,” Kushner said Sunday in an interview. “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.”
Kushner’s team of former business executives has been holding meetings twice per week since shortly after Trump took office.
The innovation office has a particular focus on technology and data, and it is working with such titans as Apple chief executive Tim Cook, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff and Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk. The group has already hosted sessions with more than 100 such leaders and government officials.
“There is a need to figure out what policies are adding friction to the system without accompanying it with significant benefits,” said Stephen A. Schwarzman, chief executive of the investment firm Blackstone Group. “It’s easy for the private sector to at least see where the friction is, and to do that very quickly and succinctly.”
The innovation office is part of the president’s promise to change how Washington works.
Under the previous administration, business leaders regularly dismissed their interactions with Obama as “NATO” meetings — “No action, talk only” — in which they were “lectured,” and nothing ever happened.
Kushner will focus the team on re-imagining the VA, technological updates to federal departments, a plan to tackle opiode abuse and workforce development projects without the distraction of politics.
“We are part of the White House team, connected with everyone here, but we are not subject to the day-to-day issues, so we can take a more strategic approach to projects,” said former GM CEO Chris Lidell.
Whether a team that reports directly to the president is able to act without political influence remains to be seen.