Senate passes bill to improve transitions

A bill designed to help prepare newly elected Presidents and their appointees for service in the executive branch passed the Senate unanimously last week.

The Presidential Transition Act of 2000 provides briefings and orientation for political appointees, creates a "transitions" directory with important agency and administrative information, and requires the Office of Government Ethics to report on burdensome disclosure requirements for appointees.

The bipartisan legislation (S. 2705), introduced by Sens. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn. and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. in June, amends the Presidential Transition Act of 1963. A similar bill, (H.R. 4931), was introduced by Rep. Steve Horn, R-Calif. and passed the House last month.

"The President-elect must have the ability to immediately put a new team in place and that team must have access to the critical information it needs to be ready to hit the ground running on inauguration day," said Thompson.

The bill now goes to President Clinton for his signature.

Several groups have already provided suggestions for improving the presidential transition process after November's election. In August, the Heritage Foundation published The Keys to a Successful Presidency, which offered advice to presidential hopefuls from dozens of presidential experts ranging from former White House chiefs of staff to former White House personnel directors.

The General Accounting Office has compiled a list of questions aimed at uncovering the leadership qualities, or lack thereof, of each political appointee who goes through the Senate confirmation process.

In November, the Brookings Institution's Presidential Appointee Initiative and the Council for Excellence in Government will publish A Survivor's Guide for Presidential Nominees, providing advice for new appointees on everything from filling out forms to handling the media. An excerpt from the guide will appear in the November issue of Government Executive.

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