On March 27, the White House announced the creation of the Office of American Innovation (OAI), which will be headed by the senior advisor to the president and first son-in-law of the United States Jared Kushner. The OAI will recommend policies to the president that are meant to spur job growth and implement private-sector strategies. According to The Washington Post, the office will primarily direct efforts toward improving veteran care and combatting the opioid epidemic.
Kushner, husband of Trump’s daughter Ivanka, has a background in New York City real estate development and publishing. Before joining the White House as advisor, Kushner had no official political experience. Since joining the West Wing, Kushner has been reported as one of Trump’s most trusted advisors and has been tasked with brokering peace between Israel and Palestine, and helping to negotiate international trade deals.
According to The Washington Post, the office is viewed as a “SWAT team of strategic consultants,” that will report directly to the president and will be staffed by former business executives. Trump reportedly takes pride in the fact that members of the team also have little to no political experience.
It is reported that the office will focus on technology and data, and as Kushner told The Post, “The government should be run like a great American company.” Tech giants such as Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Marc Benioff have reportedly been in contact with the OAI. While the goal of business is to make profit and that of a government is to take care of its residents, introducing private-sector strategies into the public is not novel.
18F and the United States Digital Service (USDS) were created during the Obama administration in an attempt to modernize government services. 18F, which is housed within the General Services Administration, is meant to function as a startup within government that helps create digital products for government organizations. The USDS, which is housed within the Executive Office of the President, was formed to fix the HealthCare.gov website after its troubled release.
The OAI, in some cases, will direct certain services to be privatized. In other cases it will function as a “service organization,” rather than dictating changes within different departments.
This move by the White House could wrangle policy creation powers to the executive branch avoiding another congressional failure after the American Health Care Act was removed from the voting docket last week.
While he is being tasked with leading an innovation council that focuses on technology and data, Kushner has never sent out a single tweet, despite having a Twitter account since 2009.