President Donald Trump set out to drain the Washington swamp, and perhaps no one has aided him more effectively than senior adviser Jared Kushner.
As Kushner continues to make government accountable to the people, the Washington swamp — including the media and DC bureaucracy — has retaliated with a Kushner takedown effort, hiding or downplaying his accomplishments while engaging in character assassination.
With little fanfare, Jared Kushner is quietly tackling Washington’s slow, outdated modus operandi while simultaneously engaging in high-level diplomacy that promotes America’s interests on the world stage.
This week alone showcases the meaningful difference Kushner is making.
Tuesday began with Kushner standing alongside Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Seema Verma, who was announcing a plan to improve Americans’ access to their medical records — a vexing, longstanding problem that has left millions of people in the dark about their health. “America needs better patient access to data and interoperability now,” Kushner stated resolutely. The White House Office of American Innovation, which Kushner leads, will direct the MyHealthEData initiative.
The next day, Kushner changed gears, traveling to Mexico City for a high-stakes meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto covering a panoply of issues — immigration, trade, and security among them. The meeting comes as the Trump administration seeks to make good on its campaign promises of building a border wall, renegotiating NAFTA, and leveling tariffs to remedy our trade imbalance. Alongside National Security Council and State Department efforts, Kushner’s meeting was part of a push to transform those promises into action.
But you would be hard-pressed to find much positive media coverage of these or Kushner’s other achievements. A barrage of contrived smear stories about Kushner’s interactions with CEOs or security clearance dominate — attacks clearly fueled by those who resent Kushner’s plans to change Washington.
The White House’s Office of American Innovation was set up to bring “new thinking and real change” to the country’s toughest problems. By working with our nation’s brightest tech CEOs, Kushner’s office is modernizing federal government in order to effectively serve the people. His work at streamlining government is starting to take shape.
For example, the Obama administration left behind a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) long plagued by scandal, delays, and other issues. When Kushner met with VA administrators, he asked them what it would take to make a “quantum leap.” Work by Kushner and his team led to a multi-billion dollar computer system for the VA and, as Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin described to Politico, “ditching its decades-old electronic records system… [which contained] a flaw that can leave new veterans without help right when they’re likely to need it the most.” The work is ongoing, but this is a very promising step forward.
Kushner noted on Tuesday, “I could not understand why medical records from the Department of Defense could not be seamlessly transferred to the Veteran’s Administration… Our military is the most advanced on Earth, yet we cannot get the medical records from DoD to VA.” The new system will help ensure that our nation’s heroes do not fall through the cracks.
Kushner’s work to help the VA innovate its technology is part of a more systemic and ongoing effort to bring government technology into the 21st century. In December, the American Technology Council, which Kushner’s office oversees, released 50 recommendations to address the so-called “plumbing” issues in government — the slow and defunct way that government agencies operate, often hindering the ability to serve the American people. According to Federal News Radio, 71% of the government’s budget is spent on old, “legacy” technology. Kushner and the teams he oversees are already working to change that.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is in particular need. As a part of the technological innovation plan developed by the American Technology Council under the direction of Kushner’s Office of American Innovation, the USDA would reduce the number of chief information officers from 22 to just one. In line with this, the USDA would also reduce its data centers from 39 to one. The streamlining and consolidation of the USDA has a focused goal: “improv[ing] the USDA customer experience” and making its programs “easy-to-use” for the American people through online customer portals.
In explaining the repercussions of these efforts, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky said back in December, “[R]ather than each agency within a mission area having their own human resources people, their own procurement, their own property, their own IT officers, we are rolling that up to the business centers, which we think it’s a much [more] effective way to be organized.”
Though the announcement was a great first step toward making an agency accountable to its taxpayers, it was sure to disgruntle the swamp because with streamlining and “consolidation” comes “some title changes” for bureaucrats, as Censky acknowledged.
And who better for a forlorn federal bureaucracy or for the media to attack than Jared Kushner, the head of the office tasked with government modernization?
Though you may not have heard much about it, Kushner is working with steadfast focus on advocating for the American people, bringing government and its technology into alignment with the people’s needs and finally ending the Washington swamp’s status quo.