George W. Bush photo

Fact Sheet: Ensuring a Smooth and Effective Presidential Transition

October 28, 2008

The Administration's Preparations for the Transition are Unprecedented in Scope and Depth

Today, the Transition Coordinating Council (TCC) will meet for the second time, continuing the Administration's comprehensive transition efforts. The peaceful transfer of power from one Presidential Administration to the next is a hallmark of American democracy. With our Nation at war, our homeland targeted by terrorist adversaries, and our economy facing serious challenges, the Administration is committed to establishing and executing a transition plan that minimizes disruption, maintains continuity, and addresses the major changes in government since the 2000 transition, including the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, as well as the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Homeland Security Council.

  • The TCC will help ensure that the Administration's efforts are comprehensive and well coordinated. The TCC membership includes the President's Chief of Staff and others with authority and expertise in areas that affect a Presidential transition, as well as senior officials in critical areas such as national security, homeland security, and our economy.
  • Executive Order 13476, which was signed by President Bush in October and created the TCC, contains a provision which allows the TCC to "obtain a wide range of facts and information on prior transitions and best practices" by seeking the expertise of outside individuals. The experts attending today's meeting are from both parties and varying backgrounds. They include:
    • Andy Card, former Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush and Director of the 1992 Bush-Clinton Transition
    • Mack McLarty, former Chief of Staff to former President Clinton
    • Jennifer Dorn, National Academy of Public Administration
    • Norm Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute
    • Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service

This Administration's Transition Preparations Are Comprehensive

The President has directed his Cabinet and staff to be forward-leaning in all of their efforts to ensure a smooth and effective transition. It has never been more critical that a transition from one Administration to the next be as seamless as possible. This Administration has gone to great lengths to prepare the Federal government for the transition to a new Administration and to help the major-party candidates prepare for a Presidential transition. For example:

  • Federal agencies and White House offices are preparing briefings for the President-elect's team on significant pending policy issues as well as the structure of those agencies and offices.
  • Career executives within each agency who may assume added responsibilities before the arrival of new political appointees have been identified, briefed, and included in a wide range of preparatory activities. Office of Management and Budget officials continue to meet with these key career officials to detail their responsibilities and to clarify the transition process.
  • Individual agencies are taking agency-specific steps:
    • The Department of Defense's Transition Task Force is preparing to host transition teams of the President-elect.
    • The Department of Homeland Security is holding conferences and exercises designed to boost incident management capabilities and cross-departmental awareness.
    • On October 9-10, the Secretary of State held an offsite meeting with senior State Department and USAID leadership to discuss transition planning and foreign policy and management challenges facing the new Administration. The State Department is also preparing a list of pending political/economic commitments arranged by country.

The Administration Is Engaged In A Nonpartisan, Comprehensive, And Unprecedented Effort To Help The Two Major Party Candidates Prepare To Govern

The Administration has reached out and provided services to both campaigns. Changes made in the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act allow the Administration to work with the major-party candidates before the election. This Administration is doing more than has ever been done to help the major-party candidates prepare. The White House began working with transition representatives of both major-party candidates during the summer and has met regularly with them since then by phone and in person.

The Administration's efforts to prepare the major party candidates include:

  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has provided intelligence briefings to the candidates. These briefings are continuing and are being supported by the entire intelligence community.
  • Senior Administration officials have remained in close contact with the major-party candidates in recent months regarding important issues of national security and our current financial crisis.
  • The Office of Government Ethics has trained additional staff to prepare for an increase in financial disclosure filings and has held extensive meetings with both campaign transition teams to discuss financial disclosure rules.

The Administration has also worked to facilitate a speedy security clearance process for key transition personnel. Historically, one of the biggest challenges faced by incoming Administrations has been the time required to obtain security clearances for key officials. The 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act allows major-party candidates to request clearances for key transition personnel before the election so that those individuals will have the necessary clearances should their candidate win.

  • The White House worked with Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the transition teams to create an orderly and efficient process. To ensure a confidential process, the White House does not have access to the numbers and identities of cleared individuals. Nevertheless, the White House confirms regularly with the transition teams that the process meets the transition teams' needs.

All interactions with the candidates and their transition teams have been equitable. The cornerstone of the Administration's contact has been uniformity of access. Materials, meetings, and guidance given to one transition team are simultaneously offered to the other.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: Ensuring a Smooth and Effective Presidential Transition Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives