White House Steps Up Presidential Transition Planning

As required in the presidential transition law enacted in March, the White House in June has begun meeting with designated agency officers to accelerate preparations for the handoff to the next administration.

On Friday, the White House hosted the Agency Transition Directors Council to review coming milestones and discussed the roles of the various councils and agencies with cross- cutting responsibilities, according to a White House official. Participants left with assignments to begin preparing briefing books and agency succession planning, as well as plans for providing logistical support to the eligible presidential candidates and the eventual president-elect.

(The front-running candidate campaigns are not expected to send representatives until after the nominating conventions in July, though some did attend a private transition gathering in Westchester County, N.Y., in April, according to The New York Times.)

President Obama on May 6 signed an executive order establishing the transition directors council to meet in conjunction with the President’s Management Council, as well as a more senior steering body called the White House Transition Coordinating Council. It is scheduled to meet on June 9.

The June 3 directors gathering included Deputy White House Chief of Staff Anita Decker Breckenridge and Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan, a White House official said.

As far back as March, chief of Chief of Staff Denis McDonough convened the Cabinet and senior White House staff to massage a plan based on the best practices and lessons learned from past administrations. In April, Donovan asked Cabinet agencies to provide technical information by September that will help with the budget request to be completed by the next administration.

The Obama administration, which has vowed to produce a transition handoff equal to or better than the one it received from the George W. Bush administration, is applying special emphasis to electronic records, according to officials. The Executive Office of the President, given today’s record-high volume of agency emails and digital documents, began as early as 2012 preparing to transfer data to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Electronic Records Archive, according to the White House.

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