March 23, 2020

Resources that guide presidential transitions: a bibliography

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