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1/14/2010
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Ballmer Expected At White House Tech Forum

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and executives from Facebook, Sprint, Adobe and other tech firms are scheduled to meet with government officials to discuss innovation and leadership.

The White House is bringing dozens of American CEOs together with government officials Thursday to brainstorm ways for the government to become more efficient through use of technology and to maximize its return on IT investments.

"The American people deserve better service from their government, and better return for their tax dollars," Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag said in a blog post Thursday. "This forum is part of our efforts to modernize government and bring us into the 21st Century."

President Obama will give opening remarks before the executives and officials work in breakout sessions on topics including streamlining government operations, enhancing customer service and managing the return on technology investments.

Top OMB officials such as federal CIO Vivek Kundra, federal CTO Aneesh Chopra and federal chief performance officer Jeffrey Zients, have repeatedly voiced the importance of looking toward the private sector for ways to improve government performance, as this event further solidifies.

"There's a significant gap between the public sector and the private sector, and that gap matters," Zients said in a recent interview. "If you think about productivity gains and improvements in service quality and product quality in the private sector, IT has been at the center of those gains. For the most part, we've missed that tech revolution and we need to catch up."

Among those participating are some of the nation's top technology executives, including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, Facebook CEO Chris Hughes, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen.

"I'm encouraged by this forum," Ballmer wrote in a blog post Thursday. "It's a signal that leaders at the highest level of the federal government recognize information technology has the potential to transform government by making it more efficient, effective and responsive."

Other participants come from companies as varied as Southwest Airlines, PepsiCo, Staples, Cargill, UPS, T. Rowe Price and BET Holdings. Government participants include officials such as Office of Personnel Management administrator John Berry, cabinet secretary Chris Lu, and deputy secretary of energy Dan Poneman.

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