WOOF! Newsletter

July 06, 2017

Tech Week at the White House: Upgrading the U.S. IT Infrastructure

The American Technology Council is a new entity, tasked with modernizing government IT services and protecting the U.S. from cyberattack. To kick it off, President Trump asked for the help of major technology executives. Are they up to the job?

Big Tech and Government are Working Together on Updating Government IT Services and Bolstering Cybersecurity

Government IT systems are famous (or perhaps infamous) for being outdated, slow, duplicative, and lacking in basic security fundamentals.

With recent actions from the White House and federal commissions, the government may soon change all that.

The American Technology Council and “Tech Week”

In May 2017, President Trump created the American Technology Council by executive order.  The ATC’s purpose is to help the government modernize its own IT systems, protect the U.S. from cyberattacks, and drive greater innovation.

The ATC includes members of the President’s staff, as well as private-sector technology executives. To begin work, they held a series of meetings in mid-June.  Now called “Tech Week,” it signifies a new era of public-private cooperation on government IT.

If, that is, the right people are involved.

ATC Members: Tech Execs, but No Security Experts

Tech Week attendees from the private sector included:

  • Akamai CEO Tom Leighton
  • Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook
  • Facebook board member Peter Thiel
  • IBM CEO Ginni Rometty
  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
  • Oracle CEO Safra Catz

All great minds in both technology and business.  Strangely, cybersecurity expertise seems largely absent from the ensemble.  No representatives from Juniper, F5, Cisco, or Malwarebytes—companies who work on the front line combatting security threats every day.

What are the ATC’s Goals?

After the Tech Week meetings, Akamai’s CEO said the focus was on modernizing government IT services. That in itself is a laudable goal—digitizing how people apply for and receive government services helps millions.

Here’s the full list of the ATC’s stated goals:

  1. How to cut government costs via improving infrastructure efficiency
  2. How to make government technology more secure against cyberattacks
  3. Business tax reform
  4. Immigration reform
  5. Make industry regulations more flexible, so newer technologies like drones and 5G wireless can grow

The Tech Week meetings talked about the challenges the ATC will face in modernizing government IT.  For instance, how can the tech industry comply with the needs of the intelligence community, without violating users’ privacy?  How should the government improve STEM education, to make sure the tech industry has the homegrown IT talent it needs?

The ATC’s Next Steps

On June 21, several Tech Week attendees spoke highly of the meetings, saying they all felt they would meet the ATC’s stated goals.

After Tech Week, the American Technology Council will coordinate actions between its members. Existing government agencies, such as the Technology Transformation Service, will help the tech execs work out the details.

A Great First Step for U.S. IT

Updating government legacy applications to today’s performance and security standards.  Favorable regulations for drone and IoT development.  Better education for tech workers (see Reshoring News for more on that).  Music to our ears.

The USA remains one of the most innovative countries in the world, but we’re falling behind other nations in broadband speeds (not even in the top 10), and cyberattacks continue to flourish.

The American Technology Council could signal a major shift in government’s technical focus.  We applaud the Trump Administration for these bold steps and hope that some cybersecurity heavy hitters will join them soon, to make security of the updated IT systems its #1 priority.


What are your thoughts on Government IT systems?  Email us at woof@planetmagpie.com and tell us what you think.