Clinton Names Familiar Figures to Lead Her Presidential Transition Team

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a speaks at a Pennsylvania Democratic Party voter registration event in Philadelphia Tuesday. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a speaks at a Pennsylvania Democratic Party voter registration event in Philadelphia Tuesday. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday named four experienced Washington hands to lead her transition team, just as a nonprofit good-government group released its latest advice on innovation for the next administration.

Ken Salazar, a former Democratic senator from Colorado and Interior secretary under President Obama, will chair the newly established Clinton-Kaine Transition Project, legally established in the District of Columbia. 

Also onboard are former national security adviser Tom Donilon, former Democratic Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden, and Harvard University Institute of Politics Director Maggie Williams, who served in the Clinton White House and was an associate of Hillary Clinton going back to her days with the Children’s Defense Fund.

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"These individuals, who bring a deep level of experience in the work of presidential transitions, will help us build a team that is ready to govern after the general election," said campaign manager John Podesta, who founded the liberal think tank now run by Tanden and who chaired the 2008 Obama transition team.

Donilon is currently vice chair of the international law firm of O'Melveny & Myers, and a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Granholm is currently a senior adviser to Correct the Record, a pro-Clinton research and advocacy group.

The announcement was welcomed by Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, which has been running a Center for Presidential Transition. “The task of managing our federal government is large and complex, and it is encouraging that the presidential candidates are preparing to govern even while they vigorously campaign,” he said in a statement. “Secretary Clinton’s commitment to establishing the Clinton-Kaine Transition Project signals that she understands the enormous responsibility a president assumes on Day 1 in the Oval Office.”

On Monday, the partnership joined with the IBM Center for the Business of Government in releasing the fourth in a series of reports on how the next administration can restore trust in government through technology-focused innovation that improves management and customer service in such policy areas as economic growth, immigration, national security and responding to natural disasters.

“By building on progress that has been made and effectively utilizing the tools and levers in the federal government, the next administration can institutionalize the use of technology to enhance government innovation and effectiveness,” it said. “The transition teams can accelerate these efforts by thinking strategically about how to implement an innovation agenda within agencies and through government-wide initiatives” as well as through its selection of appointees.

Based on a January roundtable that convened 35 experts and veterans of past transitions, the paper is authored by former Obama White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer Beth Simone Noveck and New York University Professor Stefaan Verhulst, both co-founders of the Governance Lab. “Encouraging and Sustaining Innovation in Government” focuses on improving efficiency and effectiveness, enhancing the customer experience, increasing citizen engagement, and recruiting effective key players it calls innovation “enablers.”

A look-back at lessons learned from 2009 shows the “obsolete infrastructure” in technology the new Obama team confronted. “Overzealous security procedures blocked virtually all access to social media sites. Even the president had to exert his authority as leader of the free world to be allowed to keep his mobile device,” the paper noted. “Gift restrictions intended to prevent corruption and bribery prevented deploying even commonly used open source software.”

Highlighting such tools as goal setting, evidence-based decisions, open data and enhanced oversight by inspectors general, the report recommended that the transition officials set up a technology, innovation and government reform working group to prepare the next administration. The new Cabinet early on should plan a technology retreat, the paper stated.

“Efforts to drive innovation must recognize that innovation is not one-size-fits-all,” the paper said. “It is important to have a clear vision to innovate and ambitious goals, and administration must take the steps now to create an agenda for the first 100 days that will set government on the path to working better and differently using new technology.”

Republican candidate Donald Trump in May named New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as his transition team chief. He was set to receive his first intelligence briefing on Wednesday, according to National Public Radio.

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