Carolyn Kaster/AP

New Approach to Presidential Transition Officially Under Way

Obama directive creates White House coordinating council.

This story has been updated. 

Just ahead of the deadline six months before Election Day, President Obama on Friday signed an executive order establishing the framework for the coming presidential transition.

The order is Obama’s first implementing the 2016 Edward “Ted” Kaufman and Michael Leavitt Presidential Transitions Improvements Act, signed in March. That law is aimed at smoothing the transition by creating a new White House Transition Coordinating Council and clarifying the role of the General Services Administration in working with agencies as well as staffs of the likely presidential candidates. (Over the weekend, Republican front-runner Donald Trump announced that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would lead his transition team.)

It is also aimed at minimizing national security vulnerabilities during the change of power.

The new council, chaired by the president’s chief of staff, includes the chief of staff’s deputies, the counsel to the president, the president’s personnel director, the top national security adviser, the top homeland security and economic policy advisers, the director of national intelligence, the White House budget director, the GSA administrator and the new position titled “federal transition coordinator.” The main presidential candidates are to send representatives “who shall serve in an advisory capacity,” the order said.

The coordinating council is to provide guidance to agencies and the federal transition coordinator regarding preparations for the transition, including succession planning and preparation of briefing materials. It also will facilitate communication between senior agency officials and representatives of the eligible presidential campaigns, and host interagency preparedness and response exercises.

Its guidance is to be implemented by a new Agency Transition Directors Council.

Election Day is Nov. 8, 2016, so the six-month mark came this Sunday. Obama has said he wants the transition to his successor to be as good as or better than the well-regarded handover from George W. Bush’s team to his own in 2008.