Key Committee Approves Legislation to Improve Presidential Transitions

WASHINGTON – Today, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved bipartisan legislation that would help future presidential candidates navigate the transition process and manage a smooth transition into the executive office. The Edward “Ted” Kaufman and Michael Leavitt Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015 was introduced by Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) last week. The bill now goes to the Senate floor.

“One of the great virtues of our nation is the peaceful transition of power from one president to the next, regardless of political affiliation,” Ranking Member Carper said. “This bipartisan legislation, which builds on work spearheaded by my former colleague Sen. Ted Kaufman and former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and informed by their experiences on the Obama and Romney transition teams, encourages more efficient and effective government by ensuring more orderly transitions between presidential administrations. The bill offers some common-sense and important improvements to the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 and clarifies the roles and shared responsibilities between outgoing and incoming administrations to prepare for future presidents’ transition to the White House. I thank Chairman Johnson and my committee colleagues for their support in advancing this bill. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress, the Administration, and other stakeholders to ensure that when future presidents take the oath of office, their administrations are as prepared as possible to hit the ground running from day one.”

The Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015 would ensure that a senior-level, White House-led interagency transition council is in place at least six months before Election Day, and that a standing, working-level interagency group will develop an integrated strategy for transitions. The bill would clarify the transition duties of the General Services Administration (GSA), which is already responsible under existing law for providing office support and space to the major candidates, and provides for the designation of a career employee at GSA to serve as a Federal Transition Coordinator. The bill would also ensure that agencies designate a senior career official for each major component or subcomponent to oversee transition activities at least six months before Election Day, and also designate individuals who will serve in an “acting” capacity in senior political positions during a transition by not later than September 15 of a presidential election year. The bill would also expand training available to incoming presidential appointees.

The bipartisan legislation draws on lessons learned from past presidential transitions and the work of the Partnership for Public Service in its “Ready to Govern” initiative to expand training available to incoming presidential candidates and appointees.