The White House Blog: The President

  • Delivering a Customer-Focused Government Through Smarter IT

    As technology changes, government must change with it to address new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. This Administration has made important strides in modernizing government so that it serves its constituents more effectively and efficiently, but we know there is much more to do.

    Last year, a group of digital and technology experts from the private sector helped us fix HealthCare.gov – a turnaround that enabled millions of Americans to sign up for quality health insurance. This effort also reminded us why the President’s commitment to bringing more of the nation’s top information technology (IT) talent into government is so critical to delivering the best possible results for our customers – the American people.

    A core part of the President’s Management Agenda is improving the value we deliver to citizens through Federal IT. That’s why, today, the Administration is formally launching the U.S. Digital Service. The Digital Service will be a small team made up of our country’s brightest digital talent that will work with agencies to remove barriers to exceptional service delivery and help remake the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government.

    We are excited that Mikey Dickerson will serve as the Administrator of the U.S. Digital Service and Deputy Federal Chief Information Officer. Mikey was part of the team that helped fix HealthCare.gov last fall and will lead the Digital Service team on efforts to apply technology in smarter, more effective ways that improve the delivery of federal services, information, and benefits.


  • Airstrikes in Iraq: What You Need to Know

    President Obama has authorized the U.S. military to execute targeted airstrikes in Iraq.

    The President takes no decision more seriously than the use of military force. So it's worth taking a few minutes to make sure you understand exactly what is happening in Iraq right now, who is involved, and why we are taking action. Here are a few answers to some key questions Americans may be asking:

    1. What exactly did the President do?

    On August 7, 2014, President Obama authorized two operations in the northern region of Iraq. First, he authorized the military to use limited airstrikes to protect American diplomatic and military personnel serving in the city of Erbil. Second, the United States is delivering humanitarian aid to thousands of Yezidis, Iraqi civilians, who have been forced to flee their homes and are now stranded on a mountainside — facing near-certain death without our assistance.

    2. Why are airstrikes needed now?

    Terrorist forces known as ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) have been advancing across Iraq. ISIL had moved toward the city of Erbil, where many American diplomats and military advisors are currently serving. By August 7, ISIL forces had taken positions only minutes from Erbil.

    In order to stop ISIL’s advance from threatening our people and facilities, the President ordered targeted airstrikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward Erbil.


  • The President Gives an Update on the Situation in Iraq

    Watch on YouTube

    This morning, from the South Lawn of the White House, President Obama made a statement on the situation in Iraq, detailing the progress of current American operations in the country:

    Good morning.  Over the past two days, American pilots and crews have served with courage and skill in the skies over Iraq.

    First, American forces have conducted targeted airstrikes against terrorist forces outside the city of Erbil to prevent them from advancing on the city and to protect our American diplomats and military personnel.  So far, these strikes have successfully destroyed arms and equipment that ISIL terrorists could have used against Erbil.  Meanwhile, Kurdish forces on the ground continue to defend the city, and the United States and the Iraqi government have stepped up our military assistance to Kurdish forces as they wage their fight.

    Second, our humanitarian effort continues to help the men, women and children stranded on Mount Sinjar.  American forces have so far conducted two successful airdrops -- delivering thousands of meals and gallons of water to these desperate men, women and children.  And American aircraft are positioned to strike ISIL terrorists around the mountain to help forces in Iraq break the siege and rescue those who are trapped there. 


  • Weekly Address: American Operations in Iraq

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the State Dining Room of the White House, Aug. 8, 2014.

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the State Dining Room of the White House, Aug. 8, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    In this week’s address, the President detailed why he authorized two operations in Iraq – targeted military strikes to protect Americans serving in Iraq and humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help Iraqi civilians trapped on a mountain by terrorists. The President saluted America’s brave men and women in uniform for protecting our fellow Americans and helping to save the lives of innocent people. The President also made clear that the United States will not be dragged into another war in Iraq – that American combat troops will not return – because there is no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3


  • Weekly Wrap Up: Iraq, Africa, and 53 Years

    This week, we talked about the imminent dangers climate change poses to our world; the President made a statement on the crisis in Iraq; he hosted the largest event that any U.S. president has ever held with African heads of state and government -- and he celebrated his 53rd birthday.

    Check out what else you may have missed in this week's wrap up.


    The Crisis in Iraq

    Last night, President Obama made a statement from the White House State Dining Room on the current crisis in Iraq. He announced that he had authorized two operations in the country: "targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death."

    Watch on YouTube

    The President detailed the actions that the U.S. is taking, and explained why we must act now. He also made clear that "even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq."


  • West Wing Week 8/8/14 or, “To the New Africa”

    This week, the President hosted about 50 African heads of state for the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, signed a bill to improve care for America's veterans, and expanded flexibility for cell phone users.


  • President Obama Makes a Statement on the Crisis in Iraq

    Watch on YouTube

    Tonight, in a statement addressing the current crisis in Iraq, President Obama announced that he authorized two operations in the country -- "targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death."


  • President Obama Signs Bill to Give the VA the Resources It Needs

    President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3230, the Veterans' Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014

    President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3230, the Veterans' Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, at Fort Belvoir, Va., Aug. 7, 2014. The bill provides the Department of Veterans Affairs the resources to improve access and quality of care for veterans. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Earlier today, President Obama traveled to Fort Belvoir, Virginia to sign a reform bill giving the Department of Veterans Affairs the necessary resources to improve access and quality of care for the men and women who have served our country in uniform.

    In remarks before the bill signing, President Obama addressed the misconduct that has taken place at some VA facilities across the country — veterans being denied the care they need, or long wait times being covered up.

    "This is wrong," the President emphasized. "It was outrageous. And working together, we set out to fix it and do right by our veterans across the board, no matter how long it took."

    We’ve already taken the first steps to change the way the VA does business. We’ve held people accountable for misconduct. Some have already been relieved of their duties, and investigations are ongoing. We’ve reached out to more than 215,000 veterans so far to make sure that we’re getting them off wait lists and into clinics both inside and outside the VA system. 

    We’re moving ahead with urgent reforms, including stronger management and leadership and oversight. And we’re instituting a critical culture of accountability -- rebuilding our leadership team, starting at the top with Secretary McDonald. And one of his first acts is that he’s directed all VA health care facilities to hold town halls to hear directly from the veterans that they serve to make sure that we’re hearing honest assessments about what’s going on. 


  • President Obama Engages with African Leaders on Final Day of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the “Investing in Africa’s Future” session during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the “Investing in Africa’s Future” session during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    President Obama and African leaders took part in three action-oriented sessions today as part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. The summit is the largest event any U.S. president has held with African heads of state and government, and builds on President Obama's trip to Africa last summer.

    In remarks at this morning's opening session, the President explained the purpose of the event and noted the progress across the African continent -- and what that means for America:

    We come together this week because, even as the continent faces significant challenges, as I said last night, I believe a new Africa is emerging.  With some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, a growing middle class, and the youngest and fastest-growing population on Earth, Africa will help shape the world as never before.

    Moreover, Africa’s progress is being led by Africans, including leaders represented here today.  More governments are embracing economic reforms, attracting record levels of investment.  Gains in development, increasing agricultural production, declining rates in infectious diseases are being driven by African plans.  African security forces and African peacekeepers are risking their lives to meet regional threats.  A new generation of young Africans is making its voice heard.  

    Africa’s rise means opportunity for all of us -- including the opportunity to transform the relationship between the United States and Africa.  As I said in Cape Town last year, it’s time for a new model of partnership between America and Africa -- a partnership of equals that focuses on African capacity to solve problems, and on Africa’s capacity to grow.  And that’s why we’re here.


  • Join a Twitter Q&A on the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

    President Obama at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum

    President Barack Obama takes the stage to deliver remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel during the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Update: Ned Price, Assistant Press Secretary and Director for Strategic Communications, will be answering questions on @NSCPress.

    Over the past couple of weeks, there's been a lot of activity in Washington focused around strengthening our economic and diplomatic ties with Africa. Last week, President Obama took part in a town hall for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, which is part of the President's Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). And this week, the President hosted the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which brought 50 African leaders to Washington, making it the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government.

    During the summit, the President highlighted Africa's impressive economic growth, and made clear that America will be a partner in its success -- "a good partner, an equal partner, and a partner for the long term." He also announced a series of steps that the United States is taking to boost trade and investments with Africa -- commitments from the private and public sectors which total some $33 billion.

    This is an important step for both the United States and Africa -- and we want to spend a little more time talking about it with you this week. So Assistant Press Secretary and Director for Strategic Communications Ned Price is taking to Twitter to answer your questions. Tomorrow, August 7 at 2 p.m. ET, join Ned Price and the ONE Campaign for a Twitter Q&A on YALI and this week's U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.