The White House on Monday met with representatives of some of the country’s largest technology companies as part of an effort to make it easier for tech employees to spend time working in government.
President Donald Trump has a complicated relationship with Silicon Valley, recently leveling accusations of political bias at Google. Though Trump has courted some executives, such as Apple CEO Tim Cook, and used services like Twitter and Facebook to reach wide audiences, many tech companies and workers remain hostile to the administration and the government as a whole over its policies on immigration and other subjects.
Monday’s meeting was on a topic that is a long-standing concern of the federal government: how to attract talented software engineers and other tech employees away from their well-paid corporate jobs and toward government service.
The White House confirmed the meeting, calling it a chance to explore ways for more people to take a “civic tour of duty.”
“The country benefits when patriotic citizens with technical expertise choose to serve at the Federal, state or local level,” Chris Liddell, White House deputy chief of staff for policy coordination, said in a statement.
Companies represented at the meeting were expected to include Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft, according to the Washington Post, which earlier reported on the meeting. A source familiar with the meeting, who was not authorized to speak publicly, confirmed those attendees.
The Software Alliance, a trade group, also attended the meeting and said in a statement that it had committed to serving as a hub for information on “civic service leave” and on possible job opportunities.
The White House’s Office of American Innovation, which is headed by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, organized the meeting, the Post reported.
One of the top tech-related jobs at the White House, the position of chief technology officer, remains vacant nearly halfway into Trump’s term. The deputy CTO, Michael Kratsios, previously worked with Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist who was among Trump’s most vocal supporters in the tech sector.
President Barack Obama also made a push to bring Silicon Valley workers into the government, hiring Google’s Megan Smith to become White House CTO and launching the U.S. Digital Service to recruit possible talent.