January 14th, 2010
03:50 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama asks business heads for tech efficiency advice

President Obama brought dozens of key business leaders together Thursday to solicit advice on how to make the federal bureaucracy more technologically efficient.
President Obama brought dozens of key business leaders together Thursday to solicit advice on how to make the federal bureaucracy more technologically efficient.

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 I meant finally revamping the outdated technologies and information systems that undermine our efficiency."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.

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but....

    How about repealing all H1B visas for a start? Have a nice day!

    January 14, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Dave

    First and foremost: cut out about 80 % of ALL THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

    Big, controlling government is not the answer and it never has been. History in this country and throughout the world has shown this over and over and over again... yet for some reason the far left in this country think they know better and want the power.

    January 14, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  3. gt

    oh yea ,,,government workers... how does it go.. 2 a standing... 2 a hoeing ,,, 2 a coming ,,, 2 a going... to much fat ,, to little work,,, thats why fed works get a bad wrap,,, they dont care ,, they are rude,, just go to the post office,,,

    January 14, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  4. Leon

    ...forward thinking. Another reason why I like Obama as a leader. And those that will degrade his effort, will do so - and be negative, but he's right about most offices (including mine) being behind the technological curve– and you have to applaud the effort because no matter how you dice it, it's a step in the right direction.

    He's the Mark Sanchez of politics - if you know football.

    ...it's getting better. Thank you, Mr. President.

    January 14, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Meka

    President Obama, a VERY INTELLIGENT MAN.

    If You Don't Know . . . ASK!

    January 14, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    Get rid of H1-b visa holders. I worked with Indians that had the work ethic of "If we fix all the problems we lose our jos". That was in Sacramento 2-1/2 years ago. The Indians are still there, the Americans that FIXED problems are unemployed.

    Kick out H2-B and get Americans – tell them up front - no good programs, you're out –NEXT

    January 14, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. Anthony In Miami

    Now this can be good! He's going to have to fight IBM! That one company has built it's back on the backs of they US Government! We'll see from here.

    January 14, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. getreal

    But if you listen to the right wing nutjobs, President Obama is a socialist who hates business. Apparently, they're wrong again because here he is acknowledging that they have a more efficient system and is asking them for their advice on best practices. Too bad previous administrations didn't do this.

    January 14, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. Peter s

    Mr. President we appreciate very much for what you are trying to do to put back this Great Nation on the path of productivity again!!!. However, the issue should not be, what technology can do for us but rather what we can do with technology. Efficiency can only be attained through intergrated systems and a workforce willing to put 110% efforts

    January 14, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. shmeckell

    "close a long-standing productivity gap between the public and private sectors"

    Um, instead of bureaucracies set up your entities to promote hard work, encourage people to excel and think for themselves, and reward people for doing good; you know that four letter word that liberals are parading around lately "bonuses".

    I can’t believe he had to ask that question.

    January 14, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  11. Bob in Pa

    What ? No Tzar for that ? Better get busy and appoint one.

    January 14, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  12. Dar

    I have to agree with Odumbo on this one. Good Job

    January 14, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  13. MatthewDetroit

    HERE is some advice barack you dirty thief.

    Make the banks pay back their loans.

    STOP trying to add fees and taxes to the burden.
    It does not make any sense to tax and add fees to a bank that already paid their loans back....

    It is ONLY a money grab by the DEMS as always. Thieves...

    January 14, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. GuyInVA

    "Come and give me tech advice. When we're done, I'll tax you into poverty. You guys just make too much money. You are BUSINESS leaders after all."

    January 14, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  15. Dan, TX

    About time.

    January 14, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. aneanderthal

    I hope they charge him for it. He charges them for everything to help his drug addled constituency.

    January 14, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    That's easy enough. Cut most of it out. The fat in Washington, is measured by the thousands.

    January 14, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |