White House Transition Project — Update


Dr. Martha Joynt-Kumar Here’s an update on the White House Transition Project, courtesy of Dr. Martha Joynt Kumar, who is co-director of the project:


 “When candidates’ thoughts turn to governing and staff begins gathering information on the White House, presidency scholars have been assembling information that their people will find useful.


 “The original project, the White House 2001 Project funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, prepared information on seven White House offices important for a good start. The project information was useful for those who were coming into the White House in 2001. Our goal was – and is again – to provide information on White House operations without regard to policy or politics. We simply are interested in letting people know what the rhythms are of a White House and what they can expect to experience when they come into office. As political scientists who study the White House, our interest is in letting people who come into office know how its various operations work and what people who served there earlier found during their tenure.


 “This past Fall, the scholars who worked on the project in 2000 said they wanted to update their essays for whomever comes into the White House in 2009. The idea is to avoid reinventing the wheel by writing essays based on the wisdom of those who served as directors and deputies in the various offices. The focus of the individual White House office essays is on the functions of the office, the responsibilities of the director, the relationships with other White House offices and officials, and the lessons learned by those who have worked there.


 “The essays from 2001 are still available on our website: http://whitehousetransitionproject.org


The seven office essays we are updating are:


·         Chief of Staff

·         Staff Secretary

·         Personnel Director

·         Counsel

·         Management and Administration

·         Press Office

·         Communications


“We plan to add four new office essays, as well:


·         National Security Adviser

·         Public Liaison

·         Political Affairs

·         Legislative Affairs


“Working off of the success of the organization charts we did for each of the seven offices, we are adding some essays that will focus on aspects of the environment the president-elect and his staff will come into. The idea is to let people know what they can expect based on what the numbers tell us the presidential patterns are. The short essays will be  focused on statistics related to each of the following subjects.


·         Presidential travel

·         The White House budget

·         The first 100 days as reflected in the Daily Diary of seven presidents

(there is a diarist employed by the National Archives who notes by hour and minute presidential meetings, participants, phone calls)

·         The rhythms of speeches and interchanges with reporters over the course of recent presidencies

·         The place of executive orders, memoranda, proclamations, and regulations in the first and last year of recent administrations


“There will also be a couple of essays on transition topics beyond the data-based and office-essay ones:

·         the president’s commander-in-chief and foreign policy roles in the period between the election and the inauguration and in the early months of the administration

·         presidential decision-making systems


“Our time frame is to have essays ready in July 2008. A set of essays that will explore the presidential-press relationship will come out in Presidential Studies Quarterly in December 2008. Those essays will include ones by Mike McCurry, former press secretary for President Clinton, and Alexis Simendinger, National Journal, on what an incoming president and staff need to know about the presidential-press relationship.

In addition, scholars will have essays important to a new presidential publicity team that address issues such as:


·         Is there bias in cable news?

·         New media and the presidency

·         The development of the organizational structure for presidential publicity

·         The nexus of polls, public opinion, and the press

·         The White House press corps covers presidential news

·         Local news coverage of the president


We hope to provide very useful information to people who will come into the White House in 2009.”




4 Responses to “White House Transition Project — Update”

  1. Norman M. Macdonald Says:

    This is an excellent project with in depth backing that will no doubt become a very useful tool. However it is based on the current paradigm that we are now shifting out of and seems to enlarge the size and complexity of the White House staff. The new paradigm is looking to simpler organization that uses electronic webs to accomplish many tasks. This is the first paradigm shift we have faced since 1932.

  2. Fred W. Korkisch Says:

    This is not a “reply”, but a kind of saying thank you to undergo such a large project, which is certainly of help to professors and interested students in Political Science and US Government teaching programs.

    We will follow your findings…


    Fred Korkisch, PhD

  3. John Kamensky Says:

    Dr. Korkisch — Thanks! Glad this blog is a useful resource in academia. Hope it’s seen the same by practitioners!

  4. Gentlewoman Says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Gentlewoman

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