On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner will lead the “White House Office of American Innovation,” a new effort to reform the federal bureaucracy and tackle some of the administration’s complex initiatives. From the Post:
Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements.
“All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays,” Trump said in a statement to The Washington Post. “I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”
The Post notes that, in addition to applying that mentality, Kushner “will continue to wear many hats, driving foreign and domestic policy as well as decisions on presidential personnel” and “serving as Trump’s lead adviser on relations with China, Mexico, Canada and the Middle East.” Good thing he’s getting some help! Bill Gates, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Elon Musk are reportedly on board to aid the innovation effort, which will attempt to modernize the Department of Veterans Affairs and expand broadband service under Trump’s infrastructure plan. But more broadly, the office will look for ways to streamline the federal government and may recommend the privatization of certain functions. The Post reports that White House officials are calling the office an “incubator of sleek transformation as opposed to deconstruction,” the latter of which presumably refers to Steve Bannon’s preferred approach.
This is Silicon Valley gloss over a very old idea. Reorganizations of the federal bureaucracy have been attempted about a dozen times in the past century. Calling it the “office of innovation” does not make it innovative. Kushner’s rhetoric about the plan is similarly ancient. “The government should be run like a great American company,” he told the Post. “Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.” Of course, if Kushner intends to have the federal government run like one of his father-in-law’s businesses, we can expect it to fold in a year or two.