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Statement on Signing the Presidential Transition Act of 2000

October 12, 2000

Today I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 4931, the "Presidential Transition Act of 2000." This Act amends the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, which was enacted to promote the orderly transfer of power when general elections result in a change in the Presidency. Before 1963, there was no formal provision for such transfer of power, nor were there any Federal funds available to pay for the expenses of the transition. The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 authorized the use of Federal funds for transition activities and charged the General Services Administration (GSA) with providing, upon request, office space and a variety of services to the President-elect.

This Act will further improve the process by which the United States changes Presidential Administrations. It authorizes the GSA to develop and deliver orientation activities for key prospective Presidential appointees. To ensure coordination between the parties involved in this process, GSA should consult with the Office of Personnel Management and the White House Office of Presidential Personnel in the development of these programs. In addition, this Act authorizes the GSA to consult with Presidential candidates prior to the general election, so that they can develop a plan for computer and communications systems that will support the transition between the election and the inauguration.

This Act also requires the GSA, in consultation with the National Archives and Records Administration, to develop a transition directory. The directory will draw upon the existing body of information that describes the organization and interrelationships of the executive branch, as well as the authorities and functions of the various departments and agencies. It will serve as a valuable "one-stop shopping" guide to Presidential appointees as they begin to carry out their various responsibilities. The Office of Personnel Management and the White House Office of Presidential Personnel should also be consulted in the development of this directory.

In approving this measure, I note that section 3 of the Act instructs the Office of Government Ethics to conduct a one-time study and submit to two Congressional committees "a report on improvements to the financial disclosure process for Presidential nominees," which "shall include recommendations and legislative proposals." There is good reason to believe that the financial disclosure process can be improved through streamlining and elimination of duplication without harming the positive intent of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. The Recommendations Clause of the Constitution (U.S. Const. Art. II, Sec. 3), however, protects the President's power to decline to offer any recommendation to the Congress. Accordingly, to avoid any infringement on the President's constitutionally protected policy making prerogatives, I will construe section 3 of this Act not to extend to the submission of proposals or recommendations that the President finds it unnecessary or inexpedient for the Administration to present.


The White House, October 12, 2000.

NOTE: H.R. 4931, approved October 12, was assigned Public Law No. 106-293. This statement was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on October 13.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing the Presidential Transition Act of 2000 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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