Following the disbandment of two White House business councils Wednesday, attention turned toward President Donald Trump’s American Technology Council. Unlike the other councils, the tech council is made up of 19 government officials, according to the executive order that formed the group, reports GeekWire.
The lack of private sector tech leaders was brought to light after members of Trump’s manufacturing group and Strategic and Policy Forum resigned following Trump's controversial remarks about the deadly protest in Charlottesville, Virginia this week. Trump later disbanded both groups.
Trump created the American Technology Council in May to help coordinate and improve the federal government's use of information technology. While members of Silicon Valley have remained present in technology discussions, they do not serve as formal members on the council.
The Trump administration has worked hard to court the technology industry, hosting a tech summit last December, which brought the president face to face with CEOs from leading tech companies including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
The American Tech Council is a different animal, though there does seem to be a lack of clarity about its purpose. The council is chaired by Trump and includes a variety of cabinet members and staffers, including the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Commerce, the Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.
Many tech leaders have been critical of certain White House policies such as curbing access to tech talent, casting doubt upon the ATC formation that Trump would successfully attract any private sector tech leaders to the council. Even amid some political turmoil, leaders from Silicon Valley have remained engaged, at least in part, to the White House.
There is a distinction between tech leaders present at Trump's summit and those who are members of the ATC, and it helps explain why tech executives are not resigning en masse, as was the case Wednesday with other administration councils.