Peters & Collins Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen the Transition Process for Federal Agencies Passes Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. –   A bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) to improve coordination and access to timely information, guidance, and services for federal officials who are required to prepare for transitions during a presidential election year has advanced in the Senate. National security officials, including those on the 9/11 Commission, have emphasized the importance of smooth presidential transitions to national security. Since its adoption in 1963, Congress has made numerous bipartisan updates to the Presidential Transition Act – including in 2016, 2020, and 2022 – to ensure that transition planning starts early in an election year, involves agency stakeholders, and requires current administration officials to coordinate with presidential candidates and federal agencies. The new bill builds on the bipartisan Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act co-authored by Senator Collins and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) that was signed into law in December 2022. The bill was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Peters serves as Chair. It now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“Strengthening the presidential transition process is key to ensuring the federal government can continue serving the American people without disruption,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan bill will strengthen our democracy by building on existing legislation to ensure federal agencies, incumbent administrations, and presidential transitions teams are prepared for a smooth transition.”

“Facilitating an orderly transition of executive power is of critical importance for any democratic nation,” said Senator Collins. “By clarifying transition timelines, improving coordination, and enhancing congressional oversight, this bipartisan legislation would improve the resilience of our democratic processes.”

“After each presidential election, the Partnership for Public Service and our Center for Presidential Transition identify lessons learned and work with Congress on how to improve planning for a potential transfer of power. We commend Senators Peters and Collins for continuing the bipartisan tradition of refining the Presidential Transition Act and are grateful for the bipartisan support in the committee’s vote. Their suggested changes will ensure that effective transition planning across the government occurs well before Day One of an administration and reinforce the principle that nonpartisan planning, for a transition to a first or second presidential term, is in the best interest of the American people,” said Max Stier, President and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service.

The bipartisan Agency Preparation for Transitions (APT) Act will ensure all federal agencies are prepared for a smooth transition process by clarifying the timelines for the delivery of key transition services. The bill would also allow Congress to make future improvements to the transition process by requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the efficiency and effectiveness of transition resources every four years. The bill would create new guidance and requirements for transition stakeholders, including presidential transition teams, federal agencies, and incumbent administrations. This information will help improve the transition process in times of uncertainty, such as a national emergency or if an election outcome is delayed. The APT Act would also require the timely appointment of career agency transition officials, regular meetings of agency and White House transition councils, and would require agency briefing materials to be prepared on faster timeline than current law. It would also make recommendations for cybersecurity best practices during a transition.