The New Administration Takes Shape: Cabinet  |  White House Staff  |  Most Recent Announcements (to 1/20)

Vice president elect Dick Cheney chairs the transition.

Clay Johnson, III
Due to Extraordinary Circumstances...
Because the election outcome remained "unclear and un-apparent" due to the battle for Florida's 25 electoral votes, official transition activities were put on hold for over a month.  Not until December 15, 2000 did Thurman Davis, the Deputy Administrator of the General Services Administration, hand Vice President Elect Dick Cheney the electronic key card to the official transition offices.  The handover represented access to ninety thousand square feet of office space in a building just a couple of blocks from the White House, and $5.3 million in federal funds for the transition effort. 

However, the Bush team had not been resting during the thirty six days of uncertainty.  Gov. Bush formally began his transition on November 26, 2000, the day Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris certified him as the winner of the state's 25 electoral votes.  He named running mate Dick Cheney to head the transition and established a Texas nonprofit corporation, the 2000 Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition Foundation, Inc., to raise private funds to support the transition.  Some personnel were announced, offices opened in McLean, Virginia, and a website was launched complete with job application forms. 

By mid-December about a hundred staff and volunteers were working out of the McLean offices.  The transition had raised $3 million in private funds.  Thousands of resumes had been processed.  Transition press secretary Ari Fleischer said the Bush team used the period of electoral limbo to "quietly and privately get a lot of work done." 

Nonetheless, Vice President Gore's challenge did put a crimp in the transition.  The McLean office did not open until November 30.  Due to the challenge situation it was impossible for Bush's people to interface with personnel in the various departments.  For a time there were actuually two transitions in progress.  Vice President Gore, whose path to the presidency appeared more problematic than Bush's, initiated his own transition under the direction of Roy Neel, a close, long-time aide on leave from his position as president of the U.S. Telephone Association. 

With the election finally decided in Bush's favor, the task of assembling the new administration came into full focus.  Speculation on various prospects was the order of the day; in addition to the different names bandied about, observers wondered whether President-Elect Bush would be able to find a willing Democrat.  By Christmas, Bush had announced about half of his Cabinet, and on January 2 he named his final three picks for Cabinet secretaries.  However, on January 9 Labor Secretary-designate Linda Chavez withdrew from consideration due to a controversy over her help for an illegal immigrant; Bush named Elaine Chao as his new choice for the position on January 11.  The fourteen Secretary-designees thus include three women, two blacks, one Hispanic, two Asian-Americans, two sitting governors, two recently defeated U.S. Senators, and, yes, one Democrat. 

...he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law...
Article II, Section 2
Jan. 15, 2001--John Ashcroft prepared for his confirmation hearings, which began in the Senate Judiciary Committee the next day.  The Ashcroft nomination drew sharp criticism from a host of liberal groups, while conservatives rallied to back the Missourian (for | against). Time ("Should This Man Be Attorney General?") and Newsweek ("Holy War") both featured Ashcroft on this week's cover.
Senate confirmation hearings began in relevant committees starting on January 4 and will be continuing through the month.  The nominations of John Ashcroft for Attorney General and Gail Norton for Interior Secretary drew fire from liberal groups. Each nominee has a team to guide him or her through the confirmation process, consisting of a coordinator and individuals focused on policy, legal, press and congressional affairs aspects.  Traditionally the Senate will not block a nominee unless he or she has ethical problems or is not qualified. 
Cabinet secretaries are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to presidential appointments.  Myriad sub-Cabinet posts must be filled, including deputy secretaries and agency heads.  The White House staff is also taking shape.  There is no shortage of aspirants for positions in the Bush-Cheney administration; by January 2, 2001 the transition office had received 42,041 resumes.

The Plum Book
The transition is not only the beginning of a new administration, but the end of an old one.    Handing over the reins of power requires considerable preparation on the side of the outgoing administration.  The new team must be briefed; records must be boxed and filed. White House Chief of Staff John Podesta is in charge of the overall Clinton transition effort; Bush transition spokesman Ari Fleischer has lauded the administration for its cooperation.  During its waning days, the outgoing administration will also endeavor to get as much done as possible.  Thus President Clinton launched a final push for peace in the Middle East, and his administration has been busy with appointments, executive orders, regulations, and pardons.

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Bush-Cheney Transition Team
11/26 Chairman Richard B. Cheney Named as Bush's running mate on July 25, 2000 after heading his vice presidential search.  CEO of Halliburton Co. from 1995. Secretary of Defense during the Gulf War.




11/27 Transition Executive Director Clay Johnson, III Gov. Bush's chief of staff in Austin from June 1999; appointments director for Bush from 1995-99.  CEO of the Dallas Museum of Art from 1992-94.  President of the Horchow Collection, a mail order catalogue division of Neiman Marcus, from 1983-91; marketing director from 1981-82.  Has also worked for Frito-Lay and Wilson Sporting Goods.  Classmate of Bush's at Yale and Andover.




11/27 Transition Spokeperson L. Ari Fleischer Spokesman for the Bush campaign from Nov. 1999; previously served as communications director for Elizabeth Dole's exploratory effort from March-Sept. 1999.   Worked for five years as spokesman for the House Ways and Means Committee; press secretary for Sen. Pete Domenici from 1989-94.

Deputy Spokesperson Juleanna Glover Weiss Press secretary for Cheney during the campaign.  Press secretary for Steve Forbes' 2000 presidential campaign; previously worked for Sen. John Ashcroft.




11/29 Transition Legal Counsel Michael Toner General counsel for the Bush campaign since March 1999; deputy counsel to the RNC from 1997-99; counsel to the Dole/Kemp campaign in 1996.




11/29 Dir. of Congressional Relations David Gribben Vice president for corporate affairs at Halliburton Co.  Served at the Defense Department.




12/15 Policy Coordination Groups
Bush-Cheney campaign policy staffers, congressional staffers and other experts assist nominees to the Cabinet in preparing to govern.  There are 24 groups, comprising from one to eight persons (three is typical), covering the 14 Cabinet departments as well as a number of agencies.  The transition office released a listing of the team members on Dec. 22. 
Joshua Bolten 
Policy director for the Bush-Cheney campaign.  Spent five years as executive director of legal and governmental affairs at Goldman Sachs in London.  Three years as General Counsel to the USTR and one year as dep. assistant for legislative affairs during the Bush administration.
Gary Edson, John Bridgeland
12/15 Advisory Teams
Individuals from the private and public sector provide input to the Policy Coordination Groups.  The fifteen teams have a total of 474 members from trade associations, corporations, law firms, think tanks interest groups, elective offices and academia.  The members were announced on Dec. 29.
Chair - Former Rep. Bill Paxon
Executive Director - Maria Cino





Clearance Counsel
Interviews potential nominees.

Fred F. Fielding
[not formally announced; reported in the Washington Post] Senior partner at Wiley, Rein & Fielding; served as Counsel to President Reagan 1981-86.

Confirmation Teams
Guide Cabinet nominees through the confirmation process.
Coordinator
  Policy
  Legal
  Press
  Cong. Relations



2000 Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition Foundation, Inc.

The Transition to Governing Project (AEI, Brookings and Hoover)
The White House 2001 Project
The Presidential Appointee Initiative (Brookings)
Office of Personnel Management--Transition to a New Presidential Administration
Executive Order: Facilitation of a Presidential Transition (Nov. 27, 2000)
H.R. 4931 The Presidential Transition Act of 2000 (signed by Pres. Clinton on Oct. 13, 2000)
The Heritage Foundation's "Mandate for Leadership 2000"

Americans for the Bush Cabinet
www.OpposeAshcroft.com
www.saynotonorton.org



Transition Nuts and Bolts: How It's Supposed to Work
After the excitement of Election Night, or in the case of 2000, Election Month, it is time to turn attention to building a new administration.  In fact, preparation for the transition will have been underway, quietly, for some time.  During the latter part of the campaign, major candidates will have set up transition advisory boards or committees.

Now, however, it's the real thing.  Amid euphoria and exhaustion, responsibility looms.  Expectations are high.  The one-time candidate must assume a "presidential aura."  The president-elect and his transition team must make effective use of the time so as to "hit the ground running."

Charles Jones, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, has an interesting way of describing the process.  He notes that the campaign is centered around one person, the candidate.  After the campaign, the challenge is "attaching that person to the government." 

If the incumbent has been re-elected the transition period is relatively straightforward; likely there will be some turnover in the cabinet and sub-cabinet positions.  If control remains within the same party, the new man or woman will want to bring in his own people.  And, if the White House changes party, the transition becomes a major undertaking, requiring skilled management.

A certain amount of tension in this period is inevitable.  People who have worked hard on the campaign now see others being brought in to manage the transition.  There is much jockeying for position, various constituencies make their cases, and resumes proliferate.

The president-elect's cabinet selections make headlines, but in the transition office the focus is on the nitty gritty of building a new administration.  Careful attention to selecting sub-cabinet personnel, learning about the pending issues in various agencies, and figuring out what policy initiatives to advance can minimize the likelihood of early flaps which will undercut the fledgling administration's effectiveness and support.



 


GSA-prepared transition offices in downtown Washington (shown in Nov. 20 photograph) remained empty for over a month due to the electoral uncertainty, causing the Bush team to open its own privately-funded offices in McLean, VA.
 


No Shortage of Advice
 


James J. Schiro, ed.  2000.  Memos to the President: Management Advice from the Nation's Top CEOs.  New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Center for the Study of the Presidency.  2000.  Triumphs and Tragedies of the Modern Presidency.  Westport, CT: Praeger.

Stuart M. Butler and Kim R. Holmes, eds.  2000. Priorities for the President. Washington, DC: Heritage Foundation.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.
 

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