Inside the Transition


Frank Reeder, a retired civil servant, had the opportunity to serve on Obama’s White House transition team.  In a story by Government Executive’s Alyssa Rosenberg, “Agency Review Team Member Recounts Collaborative Process,” he talks about his experience and his observations:


“My sense is this was a dramatically different transition for I think three reasons.


“Number one, these are extraordinary times. The administration had to be ready go, not simply take the honeymoon period to look around and see what needed to be done.


“The second reason was the incoming administration was an order of magnitude better prepared in two ways. One was a very clearly articulated agenda throughout the campaign. The only thing remotely comparable to that I experienced was the Reagan transition. There was a clear understanding of what the transition team wanted. The principals understood key things like who are the key appointments to make [and] the talent bank was well under way, which allowed them to do things in November that normally don’t happen until December.


“The third factor — and the last time I can remember anything approximating this might have been in 1960-61 — was a set of public expectations and good feelings that [Obama] was a candidate who said he wanted to make government cool again, as opposed to [Ronald Reagan] who said in his inaugural that government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem.”


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