Ensuring the smooth transition of presidential power has been a democratic hallmark of the United States for more than 200 years.
In 2015, Congress reinforced the importance of transition planning with the passage of the Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015, which was signed into law in May of 2016. This new law built on the reforms of the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010, which provided major party candidates with office space and services immediately following party nomination to ensure continuity of government and to protect the institutions of the United States.
The Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015 established the White House Transition Coordinating Council and an Agency Transitions Director Council. These councils facilitate information sharing between candidates and agencies, provide guidance to federal agencies to prepare for a smooth transition of power, and create an integrated strategy for addressing interagency responsibilities. This Council is co-chaired by the Federal Transition Coordinator at the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and comprised of senior career officials from 21 agencies, to manage day-to-day agency transition activities. In addition, each agency designates a senior career executive to oversee transition activities, and identifies career executives to fill political appointments in an acting capacity during critical vacancies.
Following the July nominating conventions, each candidate’s transition teams were provided the use of facilities and related services to prepare for the coming change in government. These teams focused on the development of their candidate’s policy agenda and personnel, readying for a role of governing.
During the 73-day period between Election Day and Inauguration Day, the President-Elect will deploy Agency Review Teams to each federal agency to ensure a smooth transition between administrations. Simultaneously, the incoming administration will identify, vet, and select candidates for approximately 4,100 presidential appointments. Numerous announcements for key positions will occur during the transition period, while nominations of individuals for Senate-confirmed appointments, confirmation of nominees, and appointments to positions not requiring Senate confirmation will begin after January 20, 2017.
The smooth transition of power is an enormous task given its size and complexity, with the added challenge of numerous domestic and global issues demanding attention. The Presidential Transition process can be viewed as a great protector of the democratic process.
On January 20, 2017, the Trump Administration will be ready to hit the ground running due to the planning and hard work that has been underway since the Conventions.