Ready to Govern: Improving the Presidential Transition

January 13, 2010

Based on our examination of presidential transitions, and in particular the 2008–2009 experience, it is time once again to revisit and amend the presidential transition law to place requirements on the White House to better facilitate transition activities, and to enable campaigns and the president-elect to be better prepared to govern.

We examine the three phases of the 2008–2009 transition—the pre-election timeframe, the period from the election to the inauguration and President Obama’s first year in office. In each section, we provide a short narrative based on the experiences and reflections of some key participants in the transition, and offer a series of recommendations for each phase on a broad range of transition issues. These include:

  • Starting the transition process earlier and making it more transparent so there is no longer a stigma on preparing;
  • Reducing the number of Senate-confirmed politically appointed positions; and
  • Congress and the White House to agree on a calendar of appointments so 500 key officials are confirmed at the six-month mark, rather than the current norm of a year.

Publication Type: Research and Publications