GSA and the Presidential Transition

That was quite a week last week and I took of from writing because it cut into my John King time (legendary performance from him). While I dont have any particular political expertise or insight, I did go through a transition from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration as a government employee working in part of the Executive Office of the President. Today, the country is facing challenges in every area, and the transition is as important as ever to give the new team the best chance to be successful. But we are running into a situation where norms and tradition are not sufficient.

For those who may not have ever thought about how a transition works, it is a large and impressive undertaking with people from lots of places working together. In my experience, the Obama team felt a duty to enable the best transition possible and frequently cited the very significant effort the Bush team put in. To officially start this process, the General Services Administration must make an “ascertainment” and sign paperwork that turns over millions of dollars, allows government officials to work with the team, and provides other things like office space or equipment. But, because Trump is not conceding, the Administrator, who is a political appointee by the President, is not signing this paperwork. In theory, she could wait until the Electoral College votes on December 14th which of course means the Biden team would be behind more than a month and it will absolutely impact the speed of early Administration priorities.

I remember the meetings in the days that followed the 2016 election and the messages of how important the Transition was, so this is tough to see. The only time there has been a delay (I think) is in 2000 where there was a whole recount thing with hanging chads and Florida. Whether it is Covid or the economy or my personal subject area, the cyberz, the Transition team needs to move as quickly as possible to be in position to execute in January. It is clear that for the 1,040,493th time, the system was not setup for the current state of politics and while this may be a one off, I hope this accelerates discussions on how to strengthen protections and processes of our government.

Trying to figure things out working at the intersection of cybersecurity, business, and government