This post was updated on May 28, 2020.

As a nonpartisan resource for transition teams, the Center for Presidential Transition gathers and organizes knowledge and resources for those planning transitions. 

The following list of books, articles and reports offer a wealth of information related to transition planning that our team found useful in creating resources for transition teams.  

The bibliography is divided into four sections. The first section is a list of recommended readings. The next three sections consist of additional materials divided by subject area: guides for transition teams, the history of transitions, and materials about the presidential nomination process. 

Christopher Liddell, Daniel Kroese and Clark Campbell, “Romney Readiness Project 2012: Retrospective & Lessons Learned,” R2P Inc., 2013. 

First-hand account and lessons learned from the Romney transition team 

Congressional Research Service, “Presidential Transitions: Issues Involving Outgoing and  Incoming Administrations,” RL34722, May 2017. Retrieved from 

Overview of transition process prepared for members and committees of Congress 

Ron Johnson and Tom Carper, “The Presidential Transition Act: A  Framework for Continuity in Government,” Center for Presidential Transitions, March 2020. Retrieved from 

Letter regarding the most recent changes to the Presidential Transition Act 

Martha J. Kumar, “Before the Oath: How George W. Bush and Barack Obama Managed a Transfer of Power,” Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015.  

An account of the transition from Bush to Obama 

Martha J. Kumar, “Getting Ready for Day One: Taking Advantage Of The Opportunities And Minimizing The Hazards Of A Presidential Transition,” Public Administration Review 68(4), July 2008, 603 – 617.  

Article focused on how a president‐elect can minimize hazards and take advantage of opportunities transitions offer 

National Academy of Public Administration with Ernst & Young, “A Survivor’s Guide for Presidential Nominees,” 2013. Retrieved from 

Guide for navigating the nomination, clearance and Senate confirmation process 

Partnership for Public Service and The Boston Consulting Group, “Agency Transition

Guide,” August 2017. Retrieved from

Guide for federal agencies to prepare for successful transitions

Partnership for Public Service, “Ready to Govern: Improving the Presidential Transition,” Jan. 2010. Retrieved from 

Review of transitions and recommendations for improving the process 

Partnership for Public Service and The Boston Consulting Group, “Presidential Transition Guide,” April 2020. Retrieved from

Outline of every component of the transition process 

Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition, “Transition Lab podcast series,” 2020. Retrieved from

Series of podcasts featuring a behind-the-scenes look at presidential transitions 

James P. Pfiffner, “The Strategic Presidency: Hitting The Ground Running,” University  Press of Kansas, 1996. 

History of presidential transitions from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton 

Tevi Troy, “Measuring the Drapes,” National Affairs, Spring 2013. Retrieved from

History and lessons learned from previous transitions

Additional Readings Organized by Subject

Transition Guides

MaryAnne Borrelli, Kathryn D. Tenpas and Lauren A. Wright, “Smoothing the Peaceful  Transfer of Democratic Power: The Office of the First Lady,” The White House  Transition Project, 2017. Retrieved from 

John P. Burke, “The National Security Advisor and Staff: Transition Challenges,”  Presidential Studies Quarterly 39(2), June 2009, 283 – 321.  

Kurt M. Campbell and James B. Steinberg, “Difficult Transitions: Foreign Policy Troubles  at the Outset of Presidential Power,” The Brookings Institution Press, 2008. 

Congressional Research Service, “2012-2013 Presidential Election Period: National Congressional Research Service, “Presidential Transitions,” RL30736, April 2008. Retrieved from  

Congressional Research Service, “Presidential Transition Act: Provisions and Funding,” RS22979, Oct. 2016. Retrieved from 

Congressional Research Service, “Senate Consideration of Presidential Nominations: Committee and Floor Procedure,” RL31980, April 2017. Retrieved from 

The Council for Excellence in Government, “A Survivor’s Guide for Presidential Nominees,” Nov. 2000. Retrieved from 

Stephen Hess, “What Do We Do Now?: A Workbook for the President-Elect,” The Brookings Institution, 2010.  

John Hudak, “Appointments, Vacancies and Government IT: Reforming Personnel Data Systems,” Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings, June 2014. Retrieved from 

Clay Johnson, III, “Recommendations for an Effective 2008 Transition,” Public Administration Review 68(4), July 2008, 624 – 626.  

Martha J. Kumar, “Rules Governing Presidential Transitions: Laws, Executive Orders, and Funding Provisions,” The White House Transition Project, 2016. Retrieved from 

Martha J. Kumar, George C. Edwards III, James P. Pfiffner, and Terry Sullivan, “The Contemporary Presidency: Meeting the Freight Train Head On: Planning for the Transition to Power.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 30(4), Dec. 2000, 754 – 769.  

Martha J. Kumar and Terry Sullivan (eds.), “The White House World: Transitions, Organization, and Office Operations,” Texas A&M University Press, 2003.  

Partnership for Public Service, “Effective Transition Planning Can Help Presidents Have a Successful Year One and Year Five,” April 2020. Retrieved from

Partnership for Public Service, “Government Disservice: Overcoming Washington Dysfunction to Improve Congressional Stewardship of the Executive Branch,” Sept. 2015. Retrieved from 

Partnership for Public Service, “Presidential Transition Act Summary,” March 2020. Retrieved from

John Rollins, “2008-2009 Presidential Transition: National Security Considerations and  Options,” Nova Science Publications, 2010. 

U.S. Office of Government Ethics, “Transition Guide,” Aug. 2016. Retrieved from 

U.S. Office of Personnel Management, “Presidential Transition Guide to Federal Human Resources Management Matters: Election Year 2016,” Sept. 2016. Retrieved from 

U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, “Policy and Supporting Positions,” Dec. 1, 2016. Retrieved from 

Harrison Wellford, “Preparing to Be President on Day One,” Public Administration Review 68(4), July 2008, 618 – 623.  

History of Transitions

Carl M. Brauer, “Presidential Transitions: Eisenhower through Reagan,” Oxford  University Press, 1986.  

Heath Brown, “Lobbying the New President: Interests in Transition,” Routledge, 2012. 

John P. Burke, “Becoming President: the Bush Transition, 2000-2003,” Lynne Rienner  Publishers, 2004. 

John P. Burke, “The Contemporary Presidency: The Trump Transition, Early Presidency, and National Security Organization,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 47(3), Sept. 2017, 574 – 596.  

John P. Burke, “‘It Went Off the Rails’: Trump’s Presidential Transition and the National Security System,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 48(4), Nov. 2018, 832 – 844.  

John P. Burke, “Lessons from Past Presidential Transitions: Organization, Management, and Decision Making,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 31(1), March 2001, 5 – 24.  

John P. Burke, “The Obama Presidential Transition: An Early Assessment,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 39(3), July 2009, 574 – 604.  

John P. Burke, “Presidential Transitions: From Politics to Practice,” Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000. 

John L. Helgerson, “Getting to Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates and Presidents-Elect 1952-2012,” Center for the Study of Intelligence, 2012. Retrieved from

Amnon Cavari, Richard J. Powell and Kenneth R. Mayer (eds.), “The 2016 Presidential Election: The Causes and Consequences of a Political Earthquake,” Lexington Books, 2017.  

Chris Christie, “Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics,” Hachette Books, 2019.  

Stuart Eizenstat, “President Carter: The White House Years,” Thomas Dunne Books, 2018. 

Stuart Eizenstat, “Stuart Eizenstat Oral History,” Miller Center, Jan. 1982. Retrieved from 

Anthony J. Eksterowicz and Glenn P. Hastedt, “The George W. Bush Presidential Transition: The Disconnect Between Politics and Policy,” White House Studies 5(1), Winter 2005, 79 – 93. 

Jody Freeman, “The Limits of Executive Power: The Obama–Trump Transition,” Nebraska Law Review 96(3), 2017, 545 – 576.  

Stephen Hess and Kathryn D. Tenpas, “The Contemporary Presidency: The Bush White House: First Appraisals,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 32(3), Sept. 2002, 577 – 585.  

Laurin L. Henry, “Presidential Transitions,” The Brookings Institution, 1960. 

E. Pendleton James, “Ronald Reagan Oral History Project: Interview with E. Pendleton James,” Miller Center, Nov. 2003. Retrieved from 

Clay Johnson, “The 2000-01 Presidential Transition: Planning, Goals and Reality,” PS:  Political Science & Politics 35(1), March 2002, 51 – 53. Retrieved from 

Charles O. Jones, “Passages to the Presidency: From Campaigning to Governing,” Brookings Institution Press, 1998. 

Charles O. Jones (ed.), “Preparing to Be President: The Memos of Richard E. Neustadt,” AEI Press, 2000. 

James D. King and James W. Riddlesperger, Jr., “The 2016-2017 Transition into the Donald J. Trump Administration,” in “The 2016 Presidential Election: The Causes and Consequences of a Political Earthquake,” Lexington Books, 2017, 161 – 184.  

James D. King and James W. Riddlesperger, Jr., “The Trump Transition: Beginning a Distinctive Presidency,” Social Science Quarterly 99(5), Sept. 2018, 1821 – 1836. 

Martha J. Kumar, “The 2008 – 2009 Presidential Transition Through the Voices of Its Participants,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 39(4), Dec. 2009, 823 – 858.  

Martha J. Kumar, “The 2008 National Security Council Transition: Providing Continuity in a Bipartisan Environment,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 43(3), July 2013, 490 – 522.  

Martha J. Kumar, “The Contemporary Presidency Energy or Chaos? Turnover at the Top of President Trump’s White House,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 49(1), March 2019, 219 – 236.  

Martha J. Kumar, “Recruiting and Organizing the White House Staff,” PS: Political  Science and Politics 35(1), Feb. 2002, 35 – 40. 

David E. Lewis, Patrick Bernhard and Emily You, “President Trump as Manager: Reflections on the First Year,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 48(3), Sept. 2018, 480 – 501. Retrieved from 

Michael Lewis, “The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy,” W.W. Norton & Company, 2018. 

Edwin Meese III, “Reagan: The Inside Story,” Simon and Schuster, 2015.  

Miller Center, “Pitfalls. Peril. Prosperity. Miller Center Offers Insights for the Next President’s Crucial First Year,” May 2016. Retrieved from 

Miller Center, “Tales of transitions past,” Sept. 2016. Retrieved from 

National Archives, “Reagan Administration Transition Interviews,” 1999. Retrieved from

Jack Nelson and Robert J. Donovan, “The Education of a President: After six months of quiet success and loud failure, Bill Clinton talks about the frustrating process of figuring out his job,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 1, 1993. Retrieved from 

Michael Nelson, “2013 and Beyond: Barack Obama and the Perils of Second-Term Presidents,” in “The Elections of 2012,” CQ Press, 2014. Retrieved from 

Michael Nelson, Jeffrey L. Chidester and Stefanie Georgakis Abbott (eds.), “Crucible: The President’s First Year,” University of Virginia Press, Jan. 2018.  

Anne J. O’Connell, “Acting leaders: recent practices, consequences, and reforms,” The Brookings Institution, July 2019. Retrieved from 

Anne Joseph O’Connell, “Actings,” Columbia Law Review 120(3), April 2020, 613 – 728. Retrieved from

Anne J. O’Connell, “Staffing federal agencies: Lessons from 1981 – 2016,” The Brookings Institution, April 2017. Retrieved from 

Ashley Parker, “Campaigning Aside, Team Plans a Romney Presidency,” New York  Times, Aug. 16, 2012. Retrieved from 

Eric Rauchway, “Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal,” Basic Books, Nov. 2018

David Rubenstein, “David Rubenstein Oral History, Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy,” Miller Center, March 1982. Retrieved from 

Richard Skinner, “9/11 improved presidential transitions,” Vox, Oct. 10, 2016. Retrieved from 

Richard Skinner, “Bill Clinton set a bad example with his transition,” Vox, Oct. 7, 2016.  Retrieved from 

Richard Skinner, “How the presidential transition process has evolved over time,” Vox, Oct. 3, 2016. Retrieved from 

Richard Skinner, “Jimmy Carter changed presidential transitions forever,” Vox, Oct. 5, 2016. Retrieved from 

Alan Taylor, “Peaceful Transfer,” Miller Center, July 2016. Retrieved from 

Kathryn D. Tenpas, “Tracking turnover in the Trump administration,” The Brookings Institution, May 2020. Retrieved from 

Jack H. Watson, Jr., “Jack H. Watson, Jr. Oral History,” Miller Center, April 1981. Retrieved from 

Appointment Process for Presidential Nominees

William A. Galston and E.J. Dionne, Jr., “A Half-Empty Government Can’t Govern: Why Everyone Wants to Fix the Appointment Process, Why It Never Happens, and How We Can Get It Done,” The Brookings Institution, Dec. 2010. Retrieved from 

Stephen Hess, “First Impressions: Presidents, Appointments, and the Transition,” in “Innocent Until Nominated: The Breakdown of the Presidential Appointments Process,” The Brookings Institution Press, 2001, 107 – 159.  

Glen S. Krutz, Richard Fleisher, and Jon R. Bond, “From Abe Fortas to Zoe Baird: Why Some Presidential Nominations Fail in the Senate,” American Political Science Review 92(4), Dec. 1998, 871 – 881.  

Paul C. Light, “Back to the Future on Presidential Appointments,” Duke Law Journal 64(8), May 2015, 1499 – 1512.  

Paul C. Light, “Recommendations Forestalled or Forgotten? The National Commission on the Public Service and Presidential Appointments,” Public Administration Review 67(3), June 2007, 408 – 417.  

Paul C. Light and Virginia Thomas, “The Merit and Reputation of an Administration: Presidential Appointees on the Appointments Process,” The Brookings Institution and The Heritage Foundation, April 2000. Retrieved from 

Paul C. Light and Virginia Thomas, “Posts of Honor: How America’s Corporate and Civic Leaders View Presidential Appointments,” The Brookings Institution, Jan. 2001. Retrieved from 

Burdett Loomis, “The Senate: An ‘Obstacle Course’ for Executive Appointments?” in “Innocent Until Nominated: The Breakdown of the Presidential Appointments Process,” The Brookings Institution Press, 2001, 160 – 172. 

G. Calvin Mackenzie (ed.), “Innocent Until Nominated: The Breakdown of the Political Appointment Process,” The Brookings Institution Press, 2011.  

G. Calvin Mackenzie, “The Real Invisible Hand: Presidential Appointees in the Administration of George W. Bush,” PS: Political Science & Politics 35(1), March 2002, 27 – 30. 

National Academy of Public Administration, “Leadership in Jeopardy, The Fraying of the Presidential Appointments System,” Nov. 1985. Retrieved from 

Anne J. O’Connell, “Shortening Agency and Judicial Vacancies Through Filibuster  Reform? An Examination of Confirmation Rates and Delays from 1981 to 2014,” Duke Law Journal 64(8), May 2015, 1645 – 1715.  

Anne J. O’Connell, “Waiting for Leadership: President Obama’s Record in Staffing Key Agency Positions and How to Improve the Appointments Process,” Center for American Progress, April 2010. Retrieved from 

James P. Pfiffner, “Presidential Appointments: Recruiting Executive Branch Leaders.” in “Innocent Until Nominated: The Breakdown of the Presidential Appointments Process,” The Brookings Institution Press, 2001, 50 – 80. 

Terry Sullivan, “A Guide to Inquiry: Executive Questionnaires,” The White House 2001 Project, Nov. 2000. Retrieved from  

Terry Sullivan, “Passing Through the Maelstrom: The Inquiry of Presidential Nominees and Reform, 2001-2012,” Feb. 2014. Retrieved from 

Terry Sullivan, “Reducing the Adversarial Burden on Presidential Appointees: Feasible Strategies for Fixing the Presidential Appointments Process,” Public Administration Review 69(6), Oct. 2009, 1124 – 1135.  

Working Group on Streamlining Paperwork for Executive Nominations, Executive Branch, “Streamlining the Background Investigation Process for Executive Nominations – Report to the President and the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration,” Nov. 2012. Retrieved from 

By Sen. Ron Johnson and Sen. Tom Carper

As a businessman from Wisconsin and a former governor of Delaware, we came to the U.S. Senate with different backgrounds, but a shared interest in promoting smart policies that make government work better. On this front, we have found much common ground, including our sponsorship of legislation to ensure that, every four years, the federal government is prepared for the actual or potential transition of leadership from one president to another. Transitions – to a new president or a second term – involve high stakes and important work critical to our nation’s national and economic security.

In enacting the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, Congress stated: “The national interest requires that such transitions in the office of President be accomplished so as to assure continuity in the faithful execution of the laws and in the conduct of the affairs of the Federal government, both domestic and foreign. Any disruption occasioned by the transfer of the executive power could produce results detrimental to the safety and well-being of the United States and its people.”

These words ring as true today as they did in 1963. Handing over the keys to a 4.7 trillion dollar enterprise is a colossal exercise. During the pressure cooker of a presidential campaign, and then during the short time between Election Day and Inauguration Day, a president-elect must be prepare to deal with a possible domestic or international crisis,  plan a strategy for working with Congress to enact administration policies, and identify candidates to fill roughly 4,000 political appointments — including over 1,200 which require Senate confirmation.  

And as shown by a recent study by the Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition, transitions to second terms also merit intense preparations, with two-term presidents typically experiencing a high turnover of appointees as they approach the second inauguration.

Updates to the Presidential Transition Act over the years have been the result of bipartisan efforts to recognize the increasing complexities of presidential transitions. That is why we named the Presidential Transition Improvements Act of 2015 after former Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) and former Gov. Mike Leavitt (R-Utah), who were leaders, respectively, in 2008 and 2012 transition preparations. These fine public servants have shared their experiences in working on presidential transitions so that we can refine the process to best serve the public interest.

In that tradition, on March 3rd, President Trump signed into law another bill that we sponsored, the Presidential Transition Enhancement Act, which clarifies existing law and enshrines into law some best practices from previous transition efforts.

The evolution of the Presidential Transition Act has given our nation a framework ensuring  transition planning starts early — well before the general election — and, just as Congress envisioned in 1963, that serving and protecting the American people remains the priority of our government, even during transfers of executive power.

The passage and signing into law of the Presidential Transition Enhancement Act without a single dissent in either the Senate or the House of Representatives shows that, regardless of who we favor on the ballot in a presidential election year, we are united in making sure that every four years, the transition to the next four years goes as smoothly as possible.

Ron Johnson is a Republican Senator from Wisconsin and is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.  Tom Carper is a Democratic Senator from Delaware and is a senior member of the committee.

By Kristine Simmons and Kayla Shanahan

America is “big” by most measures, from the size of our population and land mass, to the boldness of our ideas and our global influence.  The challenges facing our government are big too. Delivering services to over 300 million Americans and leading the free world require great talent and exceptional leaders in public service. 

The opportunity to serve the American people is an honor, and those in Senate-confirmed presidential appointments assume some of the toughest jobs in government.  They oversee billions of dollars in federal spending and thousands of employees, are accountable to the president and to Congress and work under the scrutiny of the public and the media. It is challenging work, but uniquely rewarding; many current and former federal leaders say that public service is both the hardest and the best professional experience of their careers.  Few opportunities exist outside of government to work with the best and brightest minds on a mission that matters to thousands – and even millions – of people at home and around the world.

The public benefits when individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences use their talents for the public good – so it should be easy for those who want to serve to do so.  Unfortunately, it’s not. The appointments process is difficult to navigate even for experienced government insiders; for individuals who are coming from academia, the private or nonprofit sectors, it is baffling.  Government loses out when the process discourages people with needed expertise, new perspectives on long standing problems, and solutions from outside of the public sector from serving.

The appointment process for Senate-confirmed positions is longer, more public, and more onerous than ever. To date, 63 of President Trump’s nominees have removed themselves from consideration or had their nominations withdrawn, and some previously interested and highly qualified individuals will no longer consider a presidential appointment. Why?

Recruiting America’s top talent is critical to delivering a more effective government to the American people.  The Partnership for Public Service continues research on the pain points of the appointment process, providing recommendations for improvements to ensure that talented Americans are not deterred from serving our country as a presidential appointee.

Confronted with considerable change in the coming decade, the federal government must evolve to support technology, data and the evolution of workplace demands. Presidents need forward-thinking and proactive management agendas in order to adapt to these changes and build a successful administration to deliver on campaign promises. In fact, most transition teams view management issues as so critical, they devote significant resources to planning their administrative strategy in addition to their policy preparation.

The Partnership for Public Service and Ernst & Young LLP recently released a report on the future of government that can inform both administrations seeking a second term and challengers seeking the presidency. Through interviews with agency leaders and subject-matter specialists, “A Roadmap to the Future: Toward a More Connected Federal Government” offers recommendations on how agencies can make the most of technology, data and the workforce to better accomplish their missions.

Success in these areas depends on agencies improving internal collaboration, working together, engaging the public and establishing connections with stakeholders from outside government.

Doing so allows agencies to:

As the report notes, “Widespread success would mean a more effective and efficient federal government that pushes the limits of the possible and exceeds, rather than simply meets, the expectations of the people it serves.”

Download the full report.

The 2020 presidential campaign is well underway as the first primaries and caucuses rapidly approach. Soon, presidential hopefuls will need to assemble a team to plan a transition — either to a new administration or a second term.

One of the most important tasks for any administration is filling more than 4,000 political appointments. Yet, as Amanda Patarino recently wrote in the Kennedy School Review, progress is hampered for transitions teams because official listings and data about these positions is often problematic and unreliable.

One of the primary sources of information about political appointments is the Plum Book, published by Congress and the Government Publishing Office after each presidential election. Unfortunately, as Patarino points out, data in the Plum Book is often “outdated, unreliable and cumbersome.” The information is hard to understand even for Washington insiders, adding to the challenge for government to attract the best talent from across the country. Both federal agencies and transition teams would benefit from official data that is in user-friendly formats and updated consistently.

The Center for Presidential Transition and the Washington Post provide an appointment tracker that can help transition teams understand the appointment process. The tracker, which is updated weekly, chronicles the nominations of more than 740 key Senate-confirmed positions. Even small improvements to data on government positions and the Plum Book will benefit both transition teams and federal agencies. And the public benefits from improved transparency and real-time information.


Regardless of the election result, hundreds of new appointees will be vetted, confirmed and serve over the next four years. To date, there are 228 vacancies in key positions in the current administration. 51 of these vacancies have formal nominations and are expected to be filled in the coming months. Historically, 43% of the top three positions (secretary, deputy secretary, undersecretary) turnover in the first six months of a second term administration. In today’s fast-paced, constantly changing environment, federal agencies must be prepared for leadership transitions.

Leadership transitions are among the most difficult organizational changes to implement and have significant implications for federal agencies. The effectiveness of an incoming leader’s onboarding is directly correlated with the agency’s performance, level of employee engagement and retention. Yet only 45% of federal executives stated that their onboarding got them up to speed quickly.

Talent management and workforce planning are the most pressing challenges in today’s federal environment. Of the 35 GAO high-risk areas, 16 were attributed to mission critical skill gaps. However, according to the Boston Consulting Group, Human Resources in public-sector organizations is significantly less involved in the development of the business strategy and in strategic decision making than in private-sector companies.

New checklist for CHCOs

To address the projected increase of leadership transitions, the complexity and criticality of their execution and the need for agency leaders to partner with their HR counterparts, the Partnership developed the CHCO Checklist for CHCOs (chief human capital officers) and new appointees. This guide outlines leading practices and key actions CHCOs can take to support appointees during their first weeks and position themselves as a trusted strategic advisor to help appointees implement key priorities.

Each agency’s CHCO, or equivalent is responsible for developing an effective and comprehensive onboarding process for the ongoing stream of appointees into their agency. For each appointee, CHCOs are expected to create a tailored program to accommodate their varying backgrounds and preferences, as well as unexpected conflicts that will take priority over onboarding activities.

Each leadership transition offers the opportunity for the organization to evaluate the progress made towards the agency’s strategic goals and course correct if necessary. While most onboarding programs consist of both familiarizing new leaders with their agency and the federal government, many do not prepare them to make strategic decisions on how to advance the agency’s mission. Only 41% of federal executives stated they were briefed on organizational priorities during onboarding.

CHCOs should use these early interactions to deepen their understanding of new leader’s priorities and assess the organization’s ability to execute. Based on these insights, CHCOs should determine how to utilize talent as a lever for implementation as well as align the agency’s human capital strategy to support the advancement of their agency’s mission.

The CHCO Checklist includes insights and advice from current and former CHCOs, appointees and other federal leaders. It can be found along with many other transition resources at the Center for Presidential Transition, the first permanent repository for documents and guidance on presidential transitions.

By David Marchick

As the 2020 presidential election heats up, President Trump and the myriad Democratic candidates will not only have to campaign, they also will have to prepare to govern for the next four years – preparation that takes place well before voters go to the polls. Doing so will mean putting campaign promises into policy, recruiting capable teams and managing the largest and most complex organization in the world – the U.S. government. 

Preparing to govern well in advance of Election Day is not an option – it is a necessity given the magnitude of our nation’s domestic and national security challenges. After all, national emergencies do not wait until a president is ready; they force the president and their team to be ready. President Obama was forced to deal with the nation’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression before he even took the oath of office. President George W. Bush managed the diplomacy associated with the downing of a U.S. plane in China in his third month in office, and only five months later, he rallied the nation after the September 11 attacks. 

The need for effective planning is particularly acute for the Democratic challengers who will start from square one if elected, recruiting 4,000 political appointees including 1,200 who require Senate confirmation; preparing a $4.7 trillion budget; implementing a policy agenda; and learning how to manage a workforce of 2 million civilian employees and 4 million active duty and reserve troops.

Planning for a second term also requires significant work, coordination and execution for any sitting President seeking a second term. A second term creates an opportunity for fresh eyes, fresh lags and renewed focus on policy implementation. A new report from the Center for Presidential Transition shows that presidents need to be prepared for significant personnel turnover in the second term.

New data from the Partnership for Public Service shows that from about Election Day through the first six months of the second terms of Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, 42% of their Cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries and undersecretaries left their jobs. Nine percent left prior to Inauguration Day. These changes included six of President Clinton’s Cabinet secretaries, six for President Bush and seven for President Obama.

Serving in a senior level position is exhausting and high pressured. Only 11% of the top officials in the last three two-term administrations lasted all eight years in office. Indeed, the fifth year of a second term presidency, much like the first year of a new president, creates an optimum moment of political power and a chance for significant accomplishments.

On November 7, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition launched its effort for the 2020 cycle, preparing to work with President Trump’s team, career government officials responsible for transition activities and the various Democratic candidates and their teams. The Center plans to bring unparalleled capabilities to this effort – an updated Presidential Transition Guide which was downloaded more than 11,000 times since 2016; detailed checklists for new agency officials; coordination with the talented and dedicated career federal officials tasked with preparing for either a new president or second term under the Presidential Transition Act; and helping thousands of Americans interested in serving in the administration get ready for the detailed vetting, clearance and ethics processes associated with federal employment. 

These efforts are just the beginning. To learn more about our transition efforts and how to ensure that all administrations are set up for success, subscribe to our newsletter or contact us.

David Marchick is a retired executive from the Carlyle Group serving in a volunteer role as Director of the Center for Presidential Transition at the Partnership for Public Service.  He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth as a Senior Of Counsel at the firm Covington & Burling.  He also serves on a number of corporate and non-profit boards of directors. 

This blog post originally ran in 2016 and was one of our most read from the last election cycle. The information remains valuable for transition planning. Please note this post has been updated with information from FY 2020 and FY 2021 GSA appropriations.

By Shalini Hicklin-Coorey

When candidates receive their party’s presidential nomination, they must begin to stand up presidential transition teams to prepare for the possibility of governing. As they do so, a number of questions arise, including who will pay the costs of running these transition operations?

Congress, realizing the importance of supporting a smooth transfer of power, passed the Pre-election Presidential Transition Act of 2010, which provides major party candidates with office space, computers and services immediately following the nominating conventions. Previously, Congress withheld support until after the election. Both candidates are now taking advantage of this government support.

Campaign vs. Transition Teams

The term “transition” is often assumed to be a process—a shift in power. In fact, the presidential transition teams are nonprofit entities, separate from the campaigns, and require their own space, people and money.

In 2008, Barack Obama’s transition cost roughly $9.3 million. Of this total, about $4 million was raised by the Obama from private donors to fund the pre-election timeframe and some of the post-election period, with the government money also kicking in after the election. Obama’s transition team grew from a handful of advisors about 10 weeks before the election to about 450 full-time transition team staff immediately after the election when government assistance was made available.

In 2012, Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s transition team was the first to take advantage of the pre-election funding provisions of the Presidential Transition Act, and also spent $1.4 million in privately raised funds during this period. The Romney transition team used the private funds to leverage the pre-election government office space, computers and supplies provided by General Services Administration (GSA) for nearly 500 paid and volunteer transition staffers.

Pre-election Help for All

In order to accept private funding for pre-election transition activity, candidates must set up an entity covered under section 501 (c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Service code. If candidates plan to accept government support, they must disclose privately raised funds to the public, which are subject to a $5,000 per person limit.

Thanks to the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010, Congress has appropriated $9.6 million for pre-election transition support to assist the Democratic and Republican nominees this year. This specifically includes transition office space, communications services, briefings and workshops for new political appointees, printing, supplies and other materials. These services must be used exclusively for the preparations regarding the assumption of official duties of the president or vice president.

Post-Election: Now There’s One

Based on the fiscal 2021 congressional budget, GSA has been allocated $6.3 million to support the president-elect after the fall election and $1 million for appointee orientation activities. The post-election support provides the president-elect’s team with funding for staff, consultants and postage in addition to printing, travel, communication and continuing use of the pre-election office space.

Making full use of the federal support and any private funding prior to the election will help both presidential candidates get up-to-speed on the enormous challenge of preparing to govern in the event of a November victory.

This short time period will be critical in laying the groundwork for a more intensive effort after the election that will involve making some 4,000 political appointments, laying out comprehensive domestic and foreign policy agendas and running a government of 2.1 million civilian employees and another 2 million active-duty military personnel and reserves.

This blog post originally ran in 2016 and was one of our favorites from the last election cycle. One of our most popular posts, the information remains valuable for transition planning.

By Zach Piaker

There is both disruption and continuity in a presidential transition. Thankfully, a support structure of career staff and their agencies stands ready to assist the presidential transition teams BEFORE the election and the incoming administration after the votes have been counted. 

In 2010, Congress passed the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act to provide major party presidential candidates with support and services after their nominating conventions. This law added to a range of services that are provided by the government to the presidential campaigns. Here are some places to turn to for help. 

Campaigns don’t need to search for federal resources, though. Congress mandated GSA to create a Presidential Transition Directory, which was launched online last fall to help eligible 2016 presidential candidates get quick and easy access to key resources about the federal government’s structure and policies related to presidential transition.

More resources are available to transition teams—including templates, timelines and guidance—in our own Center library

The “transition service providers” all play a critical role in the transition process. Last summer, the Center for Presidential Transition started a series of meetings with representatives from these agencies. Getting support teams together early and often helps federal service providers share information and create strategies and solutions. 

Thanks to the work of this group, the next president’s transition team will be better supported than ever before.