Trump Calls for Overhaul of Government's Outdated Computer Systems

By Michael C. Bender Features Dow Jones Newswires

Saying the federal government is lagging behind the "technology revolution," President Donald Trump called for more than $1 trillion in savings during the next 10 years by overhauling outdated computer systems and improving information technology.

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"Our goal is to lead a sweeping transformation of the federal government's technology that will deliver dramatically better services for citizens, stronger protection from cyberattacks," Mr. Trump said Monday at the White House during a meeting with more than a dozen executives from some of the nation's top technology companies.

"That's a big problem, no question about it," he added. "We're going to be working on it, and we're going to solve the problem."

Mr. Trump didn't lay out specific plans to reach those savings, instead pointing to a recent announcement that the Veterans Affairs Department would be updating its electronic health records. He said similar announcement would be coming soon.

Heading the White House effort are Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser who leads the newly created White House Office of American Innovation; and Chris Liddell, a former Microsoft executive and now an assistant to the president.

Federal agencies maintain about 6,100 data centers that can be consolidated, Mr. Kushner told the executives during the summit. He said that the 10 oldest systems are between 39 and 56 years old, adding that the Pentagon uses floppy disks in some cases.

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"We are here to improve the day-to-day lives of the average citizen," Mr. Kushner said. "That's a core promise, and we are keeping it."

Mr. Liddell said in an interview that he was pleased with the ideas the executives suggested. "Our job is now to collate those and decide which ones we want to pursue," he said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook praised the White House for focusing on improving its technology, which he said would be an investment that would quickly pay off.

"The U.S. should have the most modern government in the world," Mr. Cook told the president during the start of a meeting reporters were allowed to observe. "The government should be focused on its citizens, and the services of the government should be measured on how its citizens are receiving those services."

Peter Nicholas contributed to this article.

Write to Michael C. Bender at Mike.Bender@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 19, 2017 19:34 ET (23:34 GMT)