Kushner to head new WH office to ‘make government run more efficiently’

By Elaine Owen, Editor ~~


After the first major legislative defeat of his presidency, President Trump is trying to turn the page Monday with the creation of a new White House office designed to bring ideas from the private sector into the federal government.
The White House Office of American Innovation will be run by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, currently a senior adviser to the president whose portfolio already includes acting as the administration’s point person on Mideast peace.
“This office will bring together the best ideas from government, the private sector and other thought leaders to ensure that America is ready to solve tomorrow’s most intractable problems, and is positioned to meet tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities,” Trump said in a presidential memorandum.
“The office will focus on implementing policies and scaling proven private-sector models to spur job creation and innovation.”
The goal of this newly created office is to tap the best minds from the private sector to make the government run more efficiently. The office plans to tackle specific problems such as curbing the nation’s opioid epidemic, overhauling the Veterans Affairs department, and improving workplace training. It is being described as “a SWAT team of strategic consultants” and will be staffed by former business executives.
The group has already been meeting twice a week, and have hosted meetings with private sector chief executives, including Tim Cook of Apple, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Marc Benioff of Salesforce, and Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of Tesla.
Areas they hope to tackle include overhauling Veterans’ Affairs, improving workforce development and targeting opioid addiction.
“As some of its first priorities, the office will focus on modernizing the technology of every federal department, identifying transformational infrastructure projects and re-imagining the VA system so they can better serve our nation’s heroes,” press secretary Sean Spicer said.
Spicer said the VA appears to be doing certain things well, such as bulk purchases of prescription drugs, but there are other areas, including record-keeping and the purchasing of technology that need improvement.
“There are certain practices that we can put in place that can help us deliver a better product and better service to the American people in some of these key areas,” Spicer said.
The president said in a statement that the goal is to bring his “ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”
The 36-year-old Kushner puts it this way, “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.”
Two other items of note: Steve Bannon, another key Trump adviser, will have no role in the new office, while Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, will reportedly work with the group on specific issues such as those involving the workplace.
Kushner will be joined in the new office by officials with private sector experience, including former Goldman Sachs executives Gary Cohn, now director of the National Economic Council, and Dina Habib Powell, senior counselor to the president for economic initiatives and deputy national security adviser.