Transition Update

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Yesterday was the final presidential debate.  However earlier in the day there was the first meeting between the candidates’ transition representatives and the White House team that will be organizing the transition effort.

Clay Johnson, OMB’s deputy director for management, spoke about what’s going on at a conference hosted by the Center for American Progress yesterday.  He said that teams from both of the presidential candidates are “aggressively preparing and the White House is helping.”  He observed: “There is more work by both candidates than has ever taken place before, and there’s more help from an outgoing Administration than ever before.”  He noted that the Administration’s transition efforts began in the May-June timeframe, with leadership from White House chief of staff Josh Bolton launching a number of different initiatives covering policy, communications, and legal issues.  Johnson was asked to lead the transition issues related to agency management.

Johnson shared with conference participants some insights from his experience as the transition director for when President Bush took office.  He said “the flow of well-intentioned people wanting to be helpful and the volume of advice and white papers is just unbelievable.”  He says that the teams need to be positioned before the election with their goals and the president-elect’s priorities.  He recommended the incoming transition team be ready to proactively deal with the advice-givers or the transition team will be overwhelmed.  Government Executive’s Elizabeth Newell also covered the event, with more details.

Interestingly, Michelle Jolin, with the Center for American Progress, announced that their advice, in the form of a new book, “Change for America,” will be publicly released on November 12th.  She said the book will provide agency-by-agency policy agendas and priorities and will be targeted to the new agency heads.  The agendas will include Day 1, Day 100, and First Year objectives, along with what kinds of actions need to be taken (executive orders, regulations, new legislation).

At a separate conference on presidential transition, also held yesterday, Dr. Paul Light offered five pieces of advice to the next president: 

  • Be careful what you say
  • Be careful about appointments
  • Be careful how you walk and talk
  • Be careful how you manage
  • Inspire and embrace the public servants

I’m sure there will be a lot more advice coming!

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