Obama tells agencies to prepare to pass the torch to next President

On Monday, May 9, the 2016 presidential election will be less than 6 months away. While federal agencies have long since begun to prepare for the upcoming presidential transition, it’s now officially game time.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order May 6 establishing the White House Transition Coordinating Council to begin facilitating the process of passing the torch to the new administration.

The council will consist of the chief and deputy chiefs of staff, other administrators and advisers on subjects ranging from national security to economic policy. In addition, the order also includes the representatives of eligible candidates, and “any other executive branch official the President determines appropriate.”

The council will have three primary functions:

  • To provide guidance to the various agencies and departments regarding succession planning and briefing materials.
  • To provide an avenue of communication between the presidential candidates and agency executives for the purpose of sharing information regarding, among potential other topics, personnel requirements.
  • To ensure emergency preparedness among agencies.

In addition, the council will reach out to individuals involved in previous presidential transitions in order to gather information and advice about best practices.

The order also established an Agency Transition Directors Council, which will be responsible for coordinating and implementing any guidance issued by the White House Transition Council among the various agencies.

The agency council will consist of the federal transition coordinator, the deputy director for management of the Office of Management and Budget, an executive representative from every agency, a representative from each candidate and whoever else the president or councils deem necessary.

The agency council will also be responsible for developing an interagency strategy for the transition of appointees and providing the candidate’s representatives with whatever information they require.

These councils will  provide any required documents and information at least one week before election day. They will have until inauguration day to complete the rest of their required tasks.

The executive order follows a host of actions from Congress and the private sector focusing on the change in administration.

In March, Congress passed and Obama signed a bill to ease the presidential transition process. Among the things the bill requires is for presidential candidates to put together a transition team six months before election day. It also requires the General Service Administration to appoint a senior career executive to coordinate transition planning.

Meanwhile, several good government groups are supporting transition planning efforts.

And the Office of Governmentwide Ethics is putting in place tools and training to improve the transition process.

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