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After 150 days, Jared Kushner speaks

Jared Kushner has an expansive portfolio in the White House, he's a subject of a special counsel's probe of Russia's ties to the Trump campaign and, as President Trump’s son-in-law besides, he's often seen at the president's side.

But until Monday, he had never been heard by much of the public.

So Kushner's otherwise unremarkable voice proved to be among the more interesting things at the kick-off event of what the White House is calling “Tech Week." On the administration's 150th day, the 36-year-old adviser spoke before reporters and television cameras to discuss one of the initiatives he’s leading: a review of how private-sector solutions could be adapted to modernize government’s technological infrastructure.

His Office of American Innovation was leading a day-long forum at the White House that brought together administration officials and the CEOs of Amazon, Oracle, Apple, Intel and Microsoft, among many others.

“We are here to improve the day-to-day lives of the average citizen. That's a core promise and we are keeping it,” he said.

“Together we will unleash the creativity of the private sector to provide citizen services in a way that has never happened before," Kushner added, in words suggestive of Trump's own for their ambition and hyperbole. "We will foster a new set of start-ups focused on gov-tech and be a global leader in the field making government more transparent and responsive to citizens' needs."

Kushner said that federal agencies maintain 6,100 data centers that could be consolidated. Some are more than a half-century old, he said, and some Pentagon systems still use floppy disks. 

An effort underway to modernize electronic health records at the Veterans Administration was the first of many “very big” announcements to come, he said.

All told, Kushner spoke for just under seven minutes. Later this week he heads overseas to attend to another of his responsibilities -- making peace in the Middle East.

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