Sens. Carper, Johnson Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Presidential Transitions

WASHINGTON – Today, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) introduced bipartisan legislation to help ensure well-organized and effectual transitions from one presidential administration to another.

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.

If enacted into law, this legislation would assist future presidential candidates, regardless of political affiliation, navigate the transition process and manage a smooth transition into the executive office.

“One of the great virtues of our nation is the peaceful transition of power from one president to the next, regardless of political affiliation. When a new president takes the oath of office, the new administration must be as prepared as possible to hit the ground running from day one. Given the challenges facing our country, both at home and abroad, Congress has a critical responsibility to help ensure an orderly transition from one administration to the next,” Ranking Member Carper said. “This bipartisan legislation, which builds on work spearheaded by my former colleague Sen. Ted Kaufman, would help ensure that the roles and responsibilities for a well-organized transition between administrations are clear. This piece of legislation offers some common-sense improvements to the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 and outlines the shared responsibilities between outgoing and incoming administrations to prepare for a smooth transition to the White House for new presidents. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress, the Administration, and other stakeholders to advance this important bill and other common-sense reforms that encourage a more efficient and effective government.”

“Regardless of what party wins an election and takes the White House, it is imperative that the transition of power is as smooth as possible,” Chairman Johnson said. “Handing over the keys to the entire $3.5 trillion federal government is a colossal undertaking. I am pleased to cosponsor legislation with Senator Carper that will make modest but important improvements to streamline the transition process.”

The Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015 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.

Earlier this week, The Washington Post editorial board wrote about the importance of supporting orderly transitions between outgoing and incoming presidential transitions.