Jared Kushner Knows Nothing About Technology

It’s Technology Week at the White House! Jared Kushner is in charge:

Kushner is not a very impressive speaker. He’s reciting his speech like a sixth-grader, not like a White House aide who actually knows what he’s talking about.

But put that aside. It’s the content that’s appalling. Kushner burbles about heading up the Office of American Innovation, which has “empowered interagency teams” that are “analyzing and auditing current infrastructure.” They have discovered that the government operates 6,100 data centers, the “vast majority” of which can be migrated to the cloud.

That sounds like quite the audit! Of course, I was able to come up with the same information in about five minutes by hopping over to the GAO website:

The 24 agencies participating in the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) have made progress on their data center closure efforts. As of August 2016, the agencies collectively had identified a total of 9,995 data centers, of which they reported having closed 4,388 and having plans to close a total of 5,597 through fiscal year 2019.

Wait. They’ve already closed 4,388 data centers? Well yes. You see, the Obama administration began an initiative to do this several years ago. You can read GAO’s latest 144-page report here if you really want to. If Kushner himself has read it, he sure doesn’t act like it.

Later he mentions the 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act, “established before the government used computers.” I suppose I should give him a break since I know what he probably meant to say, but these were prepared remarks. He sounds like an idiot when he says stuff like this. And that’s not even counting the fact that the PRA was updated and amended in 1995.

Nor does Kushner seem to understand the purpose of the PRA or why it gives OMB centralized authority over government forms. It did this to reduce the number of forms from different agencies. OMB’s review of changes to forms does take time—and I don’t doubt that it could be streamlined—but it’s not because of fiddly clerks who want to make sure everyone is using approved fonts. It’s to make sure that agencies aren’t duplicating the work of other agencies and demanding too much information from the public.

This is kindergarten stuff, and Kushner doesn’t give the impression of knowing the first thing about any of it. I have a feeling that Technology Week is going to be about as boffo as Infrastructure Week was. Remember that? It was only two weeks ago.