Presidential transition teams have been in place for months, but the business of the transition has yet to begin as the current administration has not been providing assistance. “Government Matters” interviewed Co-Chairs of the ACT-IAC Presidential Election Project, Robert Shea and Dan Chenok, about this issue.
“There’s a lot that President-elect Biden can do,” said Shea, former Associate Director at OMB during the transition from President Bush to President Obama. They have an experienced team who are thinking about what policies and people they would put in place, and they can have informal conversations with people throughout the federal government.
You can only go so far though, said Shea. With the multiple current crises going on, “the fact that you can’t have official conversations in all those agencies is a genuine critical concern.”
The transition team cannot have formal communication with leaders at agencies until GSA makes the ascertainment that begins the official process, explained Chenok, former Chief of the Information Policy and Technology Branch at OMB and a member of President Obama’s transition team in 2008. In the meantime, there are multiple experts who have recently left the agencies who the team can consult with as well as a number of reports with information and recommendations. It also helps that there are so many people on the Biden transition team list with experience in the Obama and Clinton Administrations, said Chenok.
Agencies have been preparing for a presidential transition since the summer, “but right now, they’re between a rock and a hard place. The incumbent administration is pushing its policies hard, while at the same time not allowing conversations to go on with the incoming administration,” said Shea.