Obama is traveling to Austin, Tex. to deliver a keynote speech about civic engagement on the conference's opening day. White House chief digital officer Jason Goldman said the reason for Obama's visit is to seize the opportunity to engage SXSW's young, tech-savvy audience.
"We expect the president to talk about some of the big challenges that he sees out there that he believes the tech industry could help tackle in partnership with the government," Goldman said during a conference call Thursday.
In the call, the White House said Obama would not be commenting on the ongoing dispute between Apple and the FBI over unlocking an encrypted iPhone used by one of the terrorists in the San Bernadino, Cali. shooting last year.
White House chief technology officer Megan Smith also used the call previewing the president's trip to Austin to comment on a number of the Obama administration's initiatives announced this week, including The Opportunity Project, a website providing digital tools for communities and organizations about issues related to access to jobs, housing and transportation. The website also provides open access to data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Census Bureau, Department of Labor and others.
Smith also mentioned that Wednesday, March 9 marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of Tech Hire. The initiative calls on governors, mayors and other leaders to help employers use new training models like coding bootcamps to help Americans get higher paying jobs. The White House announced 15 new "communities" that had joined the program--including Atlanta, Georgia and the state of Hawaii, bringing the total number of communities to 50.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are both speaking at SXSW. On Wednesday, March 16, the First Lady will be delivering a separate keynote to discuss Let Girls Learn, an initiative designed to help give access to education to the 62 million girls around the world who aren't in school today.