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Gwynne Kostin, director of GSA’s Digital Services Innova- tion Center, started a one-year, transition-focused fellowship at the partnership in October 2015. In a formal arrangement with the partnership, the IBM Center for the Business of Gov- ernment will host a series of transition roundtable discussions with top federal leaders and publish a report based on those discussions this spring. And both the Professional Services Council and ACT-IAC are working on transition planning and support in various capacities.
Furthermore, the National Academy of Public Admin- istration devoted much of its December 2015 meeting to transition issues, and in January, NAPA announced that six veteran civil servants will advise its Transition 2016 panels (see related story, at right).
All that activity is a good sign, Kamensky said. “People are talking about it earlier,” he added, noting that when President George W. Bush was elected in November 2000, the transition conversation had started in January of that year. For the 2016 election, plans were being formulated as early as April 2015.
To help speed appointments and set the policy tone, the organizations are emphasizing the need to prepare ahead of time. Potential appointees can start the security clearance process before the election, and Kamensky said he hopes congressional committees will standardize their question- naire formats to ease the paperwork burden for appointees.
Another way to improve efficiency could be as simple as getting the two parties to agree on common software for receiving résumés, he added.
All told, the work could lead to hundreds more jobs get- ting filled in the first months of 2017. “It could be historic if we do this right,” Eagles said.
Outside groups and veteran civil servants will doubtless prove invaluable in the upcoming transition, but the com- mander-in-chief could set the tone in a crucial way.
At NAPA’s December meeting, Martha Joynt Kumar, a professor of political science at Towson University and an expert on presidential transitions, stressed the importance of personal connections. She said that when George W. Bush was leaving office, he had a private meeting with incoming president Barack Obama to brief him on a handful of issues that Bush deemed too critical and sensitive to delegate. That meeting helped Obama grasp the seriousness and nuance of the issues, Kumar said.
Kamensky said it was also part of the remarkable job Bush did paving the way for his successor, adding that his empha- sis on working closely with the incoming teams and provid- ing government resources was endorsed in the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act and would be mandated if the Presidential Transitions Improvements Act becomes law.
Who Obama would be briefing, of course, remains an open question. n
The National Academy of Public Administration has chosen six veteran
civil servants to advise the members of its Transition 2016 panels.
The panels “are working hard to develop recommendations that will ensure a smooth transition from President Obama to our next president,” said Dan Blair, NAPA president and CEO, in a statement released Jan. 11.
The four panels will focus on collaboration across intergovernmental boundaries, evidence-based decision- making, strategic planning and management, and recruitment and retention of career and appointed officials.
The six advisers are:
• Steve Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis.
• Sean O’Keefe, former secretary of the Navy and former NASA administrator.
• Alice Rivlin, former vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve.
• Donna Shalala, former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
• George Voinovich, who formerly served as a U.S. senator from Ohio, governor of Ohio and mayor of Cleveland.
• Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve and current chairman of the board of the Volcker Alliance.
NAPA, the Partnership for Public Service and the IBM Center for the Business of Government are among the organizations that are working on ways to facilitate
the upcoming presidential transition by sharing their help and expertise with the government.
— Zach Noble
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