Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama brought dozens of key business leaders together Thursday to solicit advice on how to make the federal bureaucracy more technologically efficient.
The session was cited by White House officials as part of an ongoing administration initiative to close a long-standing productivity gap between the public and private sectors.
"When I first started campaigning for this office, I said I wanted to change the way that Washington works," Obama told an audience composed of executives from a range of industries.
"I meant getting rid of the waste and the inefficiencies that bloat our deficits and squander their hard-earned savings. I meant finally revamping the outdated technologies and information systems that undermine our efficiency."
Federal employees are dedicated and work hard, but too often get "a bad rap," Obama argued.
"All too often, their best efforts are thwarted because the technological revolution that has transformed our society over the past two decades has yet to reach many parts of our government. Many of these folks will tell you that their kids have better technology in their backpacks and in their bedrooms than they have at the desks at their work."
Obama said there are still numerous federal offices "where reams of yellow files and manila envelopes are walked from desk to desk, where boxes of documents are shipped back and forth between offices because files aren't yet online."
The president called the current situation unacceptable.
"If you can book dinner on OpenTable or a flight on Southwest or United online, then why shouldn't you be able to make an appointment at your local Social Security office the same way?" Obama asked.
"If you can track your UPS package with your iPhone, then why not be able to check the status of your citizenship application on a Web site, rather than having to write a letter and wait for a letter back?"
After Obama spoke, the executives broke into working groups for the purpose of preparing and presenting ideas to top White House officials, including Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag.