Our History

Since 2008, the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition® has become the partner of choice for presidential campaigns’ transition teams, incumbent White House officials and senior agency leaders to ensure smooth transfers of power and second-term administration planning.

Accelerating Presidential Transition Planning

Organized a high-level conference that brought together members of all the major presidential campaigns, former transition leaders and representatives from government agencies to discuss the need for early and thorough transition planning. Similar conferences with key presidential players were held in 2012, 2016 and 2020. 

Laying the Groundwork for Reform

Released our “Ready to Govern” report that examined the successes and shortcomings of the 2008-2009 presidential transition, providing a roadmap for subsequent federal legislation to improve the transition process. 

Successfully Advocated for Legislative Changes

Helped secure passage of the Pre-Election Transition Act of 2010 that provides office space and support to eligible candidates immediately after the national political conventions. 

Reducing the Number of Political Appointees

Championed passage of the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 that converted 163 positions from Senate-confirmed status to presidential appointments. 

Preparing Political Appointees to Lead

Offered our series of Ready to Govern® onboarding sessions for new political appointees to help these leaders navigate the complexities of the federal government, work well as a team and accelerate their ability to make an impact. More than 2,500 appointees have participated and benefited since the program’s inception 

Learning from Experience

Hosted an event for the release of former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s transition team’s book, “Romney Readiness Project 2012: Retrospective & Lessons Learned,” that details the Romney team’s presidential transition planning goals, milestones and activities.  

Offering a Hub of Transition Knowledge and Advice

Formally launched the Center for Presidential Transition®, creating the nation’s premier nonpartisan source of information and historical resources dating back to the Ronald Reagan transition. The Center helps presidential candidates and their teams lay the groundwork for a new administration or for a president’s second term.  

Created Prestigious Advisory Board

Our advisory board is composed of a bipartisan group of former senior government leaders who have provided the Center with strategic advice and guidance on our work. 

Championed Transition Reforms

The Center was instrumental in helping craft the Edward “Ted” Kaufman and Michael Leavitt Presidential Transitions Improvements Act that established White House and federal agency councils to assist the presidential transition teams at least six months before Election Day. 

Guiding Presidential Transitions

Published the first comprehensive Presidential Transition Guide to help candidates organize and run smooth and successful presidential transitions. The guide has been regularly updated and widely used by transitions teams to establish operating procedures along with timelines, key choices and decision-points involved in planning for a presidential administration.  

Advocating for Early Transition Planning

Engaged with the presidential candidates on the need for early transition planning and drew attention to this issue with stories in national news outlets in 2016 and in 2020 

Tracking Political Appointee Confirmations

Joined with The Washington Post to create the first-of-its-kind Political Appointee Tracker that monitors the appointment and Senate confirmation of presidential nominees for roughly 800 of 1,200 government positions, including Cabinet secretaries, chief financial officers, general counsels, ambassadors and other critical leadership jobs. The tracker has attracted national attention and been used as the basis for numerous news stories, op-eds and opinion columns about the dysfunctional confirmation process. 

Engaging with agencies

Launched agency transition roundtable series designed to promote knowledge-sharing, collaboration and best practices for federal agency transition leaders.

Helping Agencies Navigate the Transition

Released our Agency Transition Guide that was updated in 2020 and 2023 to help senior career executives at federal departments and agencies prepare for and execute a smooth presidential transition. 

Building the Brand

Partnership President and CEO Max Stier appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to discuss the political appointments process and the number of key leadership vacancies across government. Colbert joked that he came to Washington to recruit candidates for every last unfilled position in the drastically understaffed federal government. 

Highlighting the Presidential Transition and the Work of the Partnership

Author Michael Lewis released “The Fifth Risk”—a book that documents grave concerns at the departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Energy in the wake of the Obama-Trump transition, and profiles several unsung public servants to demonstrate the critical role government plays in protecting our safety and well-being. Lewis featured the Partnership and its transition work in the book. 

Improving the Transition Law

Supported passage of the Presidential Transition Enhancement Act of 2019, which clarified the General Services Administration’s responsibilities during changes in presidential administrations and required presidential candidates to publicly release ethics plans for their transitions before the election. 

Navigating the Political Appointment Process

Created Ready to Serve®, a centralized resource that guides prospective candidates through every step of the complex political appointment process. The website has received 210,000 page views since its creation. 

Helping Agency Transition Leaders

Held information sharing sessions for more than 200 career executives from 65 agencies who were leading transition efforts.

Providing Insights into Past Transitions

Launched the groundbreaking “Transition Lab” podcast that provided 48 candid discussions with former presidential chiefs of staff, transition team leads, historians and other experts, and created an oral history on recent and past presidential transitions.

Talking Transitions

Co-hosted a widely viewed virtual event on the importance of peaceful and effective presidential transitions with former Cabinet officials, top White House aides and presidential libraries. 

Making the Case for Fewer Political Appointees

Issued a report entitled, Unconfirmed: Why reducing the number of Senate-confirmed positions can make government more effective,” and brought national attention to the dysfunctional appointment and confirmation process with news stories in The Washington Post, on National Public Radio and elsewhere.

The 2020-21 Presidential Transition: Lessons Learned and Recommendations

Released a comprehensive analysis of the 2020-21 presidential transition that examines the successes, challenges and vulnerabilities exposed during one of the toughest transition environments in American history. The report, which drew national news coverage, makes recommendations on how to safeguard the peaceful transfer of power, a hallmark of American democracy. 

The Peaceful Transfer of Power: An Oral History of America’s Presidential Transitions

Published a book in partnership with the University of Virginia’s Miller Studies on the Presidency series that puts into narrative form the most compelling interviews from the Center’s Transition Lab podcast. The book includes detailed accounts from historians and transition experts that were recorded during the 2020 election cycle.