President Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017.

President Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017. By Wangkun Jia /

Nonprofit Advises Agencies to Make Transition Briefing Materials Succinct, Informative 

The reports are due by November 1, two days before Election Day.

Federal agencies’ briefing materials to prepare for the presidential transition should be “succinct, comprehensive and informative” and incorporate information related to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, according to new guidance published on Thursday. 

The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service outlined how federal employees should be preparing their briefing materials if President Trump loses to Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming election. The transition process has been underway for almost a year for the election that is now 11 days away. Despite Trump's lack of commitment to a peaceful transfer of power, the administration has met all of its statutory deadlines so far. 

“While federal law requires agency transition teams to ‘create briefing materials related to the presidential transition that may be requested by eligible candidates,’ it does not specify what contents should be included,” wrote Dan Hyman, manager at the Partnership’s Center for Presidential Transition; Troy Thomas, partner and associate director of the Boston Consulting Group; and Catherine Manfre, principal of Boston Consulting Group. “Based on guidance issued by [the Office of Management and Budget] and [General Services Administration], as well as best practices from past transitions, [these] following tips will help agencies maximize the effectiveness of their briefing materials.”

They recommended that agencies: give an overview of the agency (organizational chart, top issues, impact of coronavirus pandemic on operations and relevant congressional committees); keep materials concise; include “key insights” into matters such as workforce demographics, current priorities, and challenges and impact of the pandemic on the budget; and produce reports in digital formats (as opposed to the traditional binders) to make them more accessible. 

“Creating succinct, comprehensive and informative briefing materials is a federal agency transition team’s most significant task,” said the authors. The materials are due by November 1. 

This year’s transition is “far more complicated than previous transitions,” Danny Werfel, head of the Boston Consulting Group’s public sector practice, told Government Executive on Friday. The pandemic has forced many to work remotely and the agencies’ “strategic priorities” for the communities they serve are “shifting and evolving.” 

The Partnership stresses that a transition occurs even if the sitting president wins because it is a chance to renew goals and plans. Last week, the nonprofit published another advice post, which is for those looking to get hired in either a second term Trump administration or first term Biden administration.