· Campaign commitments can affect the ease or difficulty with which the president-elect establishes the direction of the Administration and staffs the offices.
· The importance of an information-gathering operation prior to the convention to identify information on personnel and timetables for decisions to be made.
· Monitor the actions of the incumbent president and administration to be aware of issues that may come to the fore in the early days of the new Administration.
· Focus on the White House decision-making process, key White House positions, and budget officials.
· Coordinate both people and policy around the president’s agenda.
Harrison Wellford, who helped manage President Jimmy Carter’s transition – both in and out of the White House (and served as an advisor to subsequent presidential transition teams) – wrote “Preparing to Be President on Day One.” He offers advice on the attributes of a successful transition team. For example, the transition leader should have a close relationship with the candidate and be trusted by the campaign. He also advises establishing a relationship of mutual respect and cooperation with the outgoing administration, and learn from the institutional memory of both outgoing teams as well as from senior career executives. Pointing to the Clinton transition, he notes “Avoid musical chairs in transition leadership after the election!”
And finally, Clay Johnson III, who was President George W. Bush’s transition director in 2000 and, as deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget is helping manage the transition out for this Administration, wrote an authoritative: “Recommendations for an Effective 2008 Transition.” Johnson based his insights on the latest transition: a cost of at least $9 million, a staff of at least 800, an influx of at least 75,000 resumes. He offers practical advice about schedules, priorities, and communication. For example, he notes “Expect a lot of advice from member of previous administrations, ‘experts,” interest groups, lobbyists, governors, legislators, donors, and the like.” He advises the incoming transition team to clearly inform such advisors on the best ways to communicate with the team. But his key advice, like both Dr. Kumar and Mr. Wellford, is to start preparing to govern months before the party nominating conventions.
Note: Links to the articles cited are used with the permission of the American Society for Public Administration.