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Trump meeting with Tim Cook & other tech leaders today seeking help to use IT to cut costs [U]

Update: Axios reports that Cook plans to proactively raise four issues: the importance of immigration to the US economy; the vital need to protect strong encryption; better serving veterans through medical care and hiring policies; and ensuring that human rights remain a priority.

President Trump will meet today with the CEOs of almost 20 tech companies, including Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Adobe, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Qualcomm. He is reported to be seeking their advice on how to make better use of IT to cut costs.

The White House apparently believes that it can use technology to cut a trillion dollars from the government budget over the next ten years …

Reuters reports that the claim was made on Friday, ahead of today’s meeting.

White House officials said on a conference call on Friday that the administration believed there was an “economic opportunity” to save up to $1 trillion over 10 years by significantly cutting government information technology costs, reducing government costs through improved IT, leveraging government buying power and cutting fraud across government agencies.

Trump has so far created two bodies charged with using the advice of businesses to help modernize government, the White House Office of American Innovation formed in March, and the American Technology Council last month. Tim Cook attended a previous meeting of tech leaders, but felt the need to explain this to employees, and said last week that he had not formally joined any council.

What’s been your experience of working with Donald Trump?

I feel a great responsibility as an American, as a CEO, to try to influence things in areas where we have a level of expertise. I’ve pushed hard on immigration. We clearly have a very different view on things in that area. I’ve pushed on climate. We have a different view there. There are clearly areas where we’re not nearly on the same page.

We’re dramatically different. I hope there’s some areas where we’re not. His focus on jobs is good. So we’ll see. Pulling out of the Paris climate accord was very disappointing. I felt a responsibility to do every single thing I could for it not to happen. I think it’s the wrong decision. If I see another opening on the Paris thing, I’m going to bring it up again.

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.” I’m not on a council, so I don’t have those kind of decisions. But I care deeply about America. I want America to do well. America’s more important than bloody politics from my point of view.

Let me give you an example of this. Veterans Affairs has struggled in providing health care to veterans. We have an expertise in some of the things at the base level that they’re struggling with. So we’re going to work with them. I could give a crap about the politics of it. I want to help veterans. My dad’s a veteran. My brother served. We have so many military folks in Apple. These folks deserve great health care. So we’re going to keep helping.

Re/code notes that Obama also tapped tech leaders for advice during his presidency, forming one advisory body and one hands-on one.

Trump is hardly the first president to try to leverage Silicon Valley in a bid to rethink the way Washington works. Tech giants similarly offered their aid to former President Barack Obama, who spent eight years trying to digitize more of the government’s services […]

The former Democratic president still left in place two tech-focused swat teams to aid federal agencies that sought to tap technology in more efficient ways. Trump, for now, has kept both intact.

The meeting is reportedly also going to discuss immigration, one of at least two topics on which Cook is strongly opposed to Trump’s stance.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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