President Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at a White House meeting with business leaders April 11.

President Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at a White House meeting with business leaders April 11. Evan Vucci/AP

Trump Cabinet Members Hear from Corporate Leaders on How to Reform Government

Jared Kushner-led Office of American Innovation holds first meeting.

President Trump’s new office aimed at reforming the federal government held its first formal meeting on Tuesday, with the White House hearing ideas from private sector leaders on improving agencies' performance.

Several members of his cabinet, including Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, and CEOs from more than a dozen large companies, joined Trump. In remarks at the beginning of the White House Office of American Innovation meeting, Trump said his administration would rely on the insights of the private sector to “drive job creation and reform government.”

The president said his actions to rein in federal agencies by reducing their regulatory activities has already “unleashed” the private sector and ushered in a new period of growth. The administration has repealed about a dozen Obama-era regulations through a congressional review process, but most of the internal work within agencies is currently taking shape through task forces Trump has created.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday the meeting would explore new ideas about “how the government can modernize and provide a better, more efficient services [sic] to the American people.” The meeting, he added, provided an “opportunity for the administration to engage with the private sector and harness its knowledge to develop innovative solutions to the country’s biggest problems.”

The meeting consisted of “small, interactive groups,” Spicer said, in which cabinet members shared their strategic visions for their departments and heard input from relevant private sector leaders on how to achieve their goals. The groups then came together and shared their discussions.

Among the topics of conversation were upgrading the nation’s infrastructure and reforms at the Veterans Affairs Department. Trump also signaled a “massive program” to modernize the government’s computer systems would fall under the purview of the new innovation office. The president said the cost of maintaining existing information technology systems was “so high it’s not even a believable number” and said the government could “buy a whole new set of systems for less money.”

The White House announced the new office in March, saying Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner would lead it. In a presidential memorandum formally launching the office, Trump said it would "solve today's most intractable problems." After hearing from private sector leaders and government officials, the office will make policy recommendations to the president and "coordinate implementation of any resulting plans."