In the words of a senior Bush advisor, the agency review team needs to be seen as “working with” and not “doing to” the agencies. Teams also should view this process as a way to onboard potential new appointees into the agency, but the transition leadership should make it clear that there should be no expectation that agency review team members will be guaranteed positions in the new administration.
Building a spirit of collaboration between the top staff of the outgoing administration and the agency review team is important, and can be accomplished by maintaining professional and courteous relationships. At the same time, if the election has brought a change in the political party in power, incoming teams usually are intent on changing direction and moving quickly, and trust and cooperation may not always be easy.
As was the case in the Romney transition effort, agency review personnel should be trained to approach each agency with respect; to ask questions about the overall functions and mission of the agency and its offices; and to quickly develop collaborative and open working relationships with their agency counterparts. The review teams should have a clear understanding of the major policy priorities of the president-elect and how their particular agency fits into the overall policy platform of the incoming administration. Finally, the agency review teams should collaborate and work closely with one another to share information and learn from one another as well as from their respective agencies.