The Presidential Transition

May 31, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Obama will be leaving office at the end of this year. Russell Berman took a look at the history of the Presidential transition process:

  • In the past the transition between American Presidents was ad-hoc and unplanned. It was a remarkably vulnerable point for America as the old administration would just disappear, and the new one wouldn’t be up to speed.
  • There wasn’t a lot of thought put into it – in fact true to Bill Clinton’s reputation, there are anecdotes of the outgoing Clinton administration pulling light pranks on the incoming Bush administration.
  • The Bush staffers probably didn’t appreciate that – especially since they were already given a shorter than usual transition period due to the Supreme court’s involvement in the 2000 election.
  • All of this changed on 9/11. On that day Bolten, a senior administration figure, received a call from a Clinton administration predecessor asking him if he was aware of the bunker underneath the White House.
  • The Bush Administration was aware of it – and used it – but the realization that there was a chance a Presidential administration wasn’t aware of a White House bunker nine months into their term made the Bush Administration realize that the current system was a problem.
  • Come 2008, The Bush administration went out of its way to involve the Obama and McCain teams – seeking advanced security clearance for potential future staffers, and getting their input on things such as proposed software systems.
  • Given the sensitivities around a Democratic candidate handing over this information to a Republican administration, it was set up so that only the FBI would be aware of sensitive information that campaigns wanted to keep guarded.
  • All in all, the Bush administration received a lot of praise from the Obama administration for their handling of the transition process.
  • In 2010 Congress passed an act that further codified these practices, including a provision that allowed serious Presidential contenders to get office space from which to conduct transition planning.
  • Obama continued in Bush’s spirit and during the 2012 election his staffers worked closely with Romney’s transition team in case Obama went on to lose the election.

Read more about the drive to improve transition planning, and what a transition to a President Trump or Clinton might look like, over here. Read our coverage of the 2016 elections here.

Source: The Atlantic