The executive order bases itself on the findings of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which saw instances of critical government machinery using legacy systems.
In a significant development, U.S President Donald Trump has announced, he has signed an executive order to create a new technology council which will oversee the transfer and modernisation of the U.S. government’s information technology systems.
The White House has confirmed that 20 technology chief executives are scheduled to attend meetings at the White House in early June for this purpose.
“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,” reads Trump’s executive order dated April 28.
Already Trump has had a number of meetings with top chief executives of tech companies including Tesla Inc, Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc, Microsoft Inc, and IBM Corp.
In March, Trump had signed a separate order for overhauling the machinery of the federal government. To do so, Trump has appointed Jared Kushner to leverage business ideas and potentially privatise government functions.
The White House is pushing to shrink the size of the government in order to eliminate regulations, shrink the government and reduce federal employees.
Officially named as the American Technology Council, Chris Liddell has been appointed as its director. Incidentally, Liddell is the White House director of strategic initiatives and a former Microsoft and General Motors co chief financial officer.
This development comes in the wake of a 2016 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which stated that U.S. government spends more than $80 billion in IT annually. Although that spending has shrunk by $7.3 billion since 2010, in 2015 nearly 7,000 separate IT investments were made by the U.S. government.
Of note, the $80 billion figure does not include IT investments made by the Department of Defense, since these are classied. It also does not include the IT investments of 58 independent executive branch agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency.
As per the GAO report, U.S. government IT investments “are becoming increasingly obsolete: many use outdated software languages and hardware parts that are unsupported.”
The report also found that a few government agencies were using legacy systems, which are at least 50 years old.
“The Department of Defense uses 8-inch floppy disks in a legacy system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation’s nuclear forces,” reads the report.
As per the report, the Defense Department plans to update the system by the end of September.
A similar scenario is also at the Treasury Department wherein its business master file of tax data which dates back to individual business income from the 1950s uses an antiquated computer language “and operates on an IBM mainframe.”
The council is chaired by Trump and includes the defense secretary, homeland security secretary, budget director and director of national intelligence.