WASHINGTON >> President Donald Trump is establishing a new White House office run by his son-in-law that will seek to overhaul government functions using ideas from the business sector.
Trump announced the White House Office of American Innovation in a memo Monday. “The office will focus on implementing policies and scaling proven private-sector models to spur job creation and innovation,” he wrote.
The innovation office will be led by Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump’s husband, and will report directly to the president. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said early priorities for the office will be modernizing technology in the federal government and overhauling the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In the memo, Trump said the office will make recommendations to the president “on policies and plans that improve government operations and services, improve the quality of life for Americans now and in the future, and spur job creation.”
Among those working on the effort are National Economic Council director Gary Cohn; Dina Powell, senior counselor to the president for economic initiatives and deputy national security adviser; Chris Liddell, assistant to the president for strategic initiatives; and Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives. All have extensive business experience.
Trump is announcing the new office at a low point in his young administration, days after the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” imploded in the House, revealing deep divides within the GOP and fraying tensions at the White House.
This effort has been developing since shortly after the inauguration, said a senior administration official, who requested anonymity to discuss details about the office. The group has been meeting since then and started talking to CEOs from various sectors about ways to make changes to federal programs. Areas its personnel hope to tackle include overhauling the Department of Veterans Affairs, improving workforce development and targeting opioid addiction.
Ivanka Trump, who has a West Wing office but no official job, will be involved with issues of interest to her, such as workforce development.