Legislation to Improve Presidential Transitions Approved by House

WASHINGTON – Today, the House of Representatives approved bipartisan legislation that would help 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 the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on April 30, 2015 and unanimously approved by the Senate on July 30, 2015. The bill passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in October of 2015. It will now return to the Senate for final passage before being sent to the President for his signature.

“One of the greatest 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 builds on the Presidential Transition Act of 2010 and incorporates many of the lessons learned from the experiences of my former colleague Sen. Ted Kaufman and former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt when they served on the Obama and Romney transition teams. The bill offers some common-sense and important improvements to ensure a smooth transition of executive power. With the 2016 Presidential elections fast approaching, it is vitally important that we have the resources in place to help our next President-elect be ready to govern on day one. I thank my co-sponsor Senator Johnson and our counterparts in the House, Representatives Chaffetz and Cummings, for their support in shepherding this bill through Congress.”

“Regardless of which 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 $3.9 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 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.