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May 5 2017

Can Another Tech Squad to Transform How Washington Works?

by Patrice L. Onwuka

When we think about efficiency we think Apple or Uber, not the DMV. President Trump and adviser Jared Kushner hope that by applying the ingenuity of Silicon Valley to the federal government’s operations, they can make Washington work a bit better.

Earlier this week, President Trump signed an executive order establishing a new high-level task force that aims to upgrade the aging federal bureaucracy and how it uses technology to deliver information. The American Technology Council will help government “transform and modernize” its services. The order reads:

"It is the policy of the United States to promote the secure, efficient and economical use of information technology to achieve its missions. Americans deserve better digital services from their government. To effectuate this policy, the federal government must transform and modernize its information technology and how it uses and delivers digital services."

According to reports, the White House plans to huddle with tech leaders in June for recommendations as well as ideas to get the council up and running.

If this sounds a little familiar, it should. President Obama who effectively utilized technology in his presidential bids, had big dreams to drag Washington into the digital age. Those remained pipe dreams.

It started with the disastrous rollout of his failed ObamaCare website, healthcare.gov. He tapped a tech squad to get the website operational once again.

President Obama then created a presidential fellowship program that welcomed private sector technologists into federal agencies for short-term stints. That program was rolled into the General Services Administration and became known as 18F. As we’ve reported 18F was a boondoggle! They collected nothing for their work to cover their expenses, but increased their operational budget --quadrupling in just one year. Furthermore, staff flouted its own IT security compliance rules and boasted about their invulnerabilities.

We hope that the discipline of the private sector can indeed be applied to Washington to bring about much-needed reforms. The idea for transforming how Washington uses technology falls right in line with the Trump Administration’s current efforts of increasing efficiency and eliminating waste in Washington. Modernizing federal agencies goes hand in hand with the overall review and reform effort.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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