PRESS RELEASE from U.S. Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE)
April 14, 2010

Kaufman Introduces Bill to Improve Presidential Transfers of Power

Bipartisan legislation would encourage candidates, incumbent administrations to engage in earlier pre-election transition planning

April 14, 2010 WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE), with Senators George V. Voinovich (R-OH), Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) on Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation to address the historical reluctance of presidential candidates to initiate early transition activities, as well as to ensure incumbent administrations continue making transition planning a priority.

The Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act would encourage both candidates and incumbent administrations to undertake earlier pre-election transition activities. The bill would formalize many of the recent transition’s successes and provide additional resources to help candidates begin their transition efforts earlier.

“Fortune favors the prepared,” said Sen. Kaufman, who served as a member of the Obama-Biden transition team. “The Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act will go a long way in removing the stigma that has historically caused candidates to hide or even delay important transition planning until after Election Day. With the security and domestic policy challenges we face today, it must become the norm for any major party nominee to begin making arrangements for a transition long before Election Day. We can’t afford to leave something this important to chance.”

“Candidates taking deliberate steps to ensure a smooth transition should not be criticized as arrogantly ‘measuring the White House drapes’ before Election Day; such planning should be encouraged and supported.” Sen. Voinovich said. “I am proud to join with my colleagues in introducing the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act, which will establish forms of transition assistance to candidates earlier than ever before. We owe it to Americans to encourage effective presidential transition periods in order to protect our national security, support economic prosperity and promote government efficiency.”

"A smooth, effective transition is vital to ensuring government continuity and protecting national security between administrations," said Sen. Akaka. "In 2008 I chaired two Oversight of Government Management Subcommittee hearings on the importance of transition planning. Because of unprecedented preparation and planning, last year’s transition has proven one of the most successful ever. The PrEPT Act builds on lessons learned and encourages early planning for future transitions."

“Presidential transitions and the months that follow can be perceived as times of potential vulnerability for the nation. Al Qaeda tried to take advantage of a new presidency when it attacked the nation on September 11, 2001. This legislation helps make transfers of power more seamless by encouraging incumbent administrations and presidential campaigns to plan responsibly for a transition in advance of an election. Ultimately, this type of early planning will make our nation more secure,” said Sen. Lieberman.

Specifically, the bill would:

Make candidate transition planning an act of responsibility, not presumptuousness:

The Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act seeks to make the decision to undertake transition planning easier by providing resources and educating the campaigns, the press, and the public on the importance of early transition activities.

· The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) will offer each candidate an array of services promptly upon nomination, including fully equipped office space, communication services, briefings, training, and initiation of security clearances for prospective personnel.

· Candidates eligible for services include major party candidates and others determined eligible based on the criteria used by the Commission on Presidential Debates for those participating in general election debates.

· GSA shall distribute to candidates a report on modern transitions, including a bibliography of resources, which shall be released to the public and posted online.

· Staff compensation, travel expenses and allowances are funded exclusively by separate funds of the campaigns prior to the election. · Provision of services and information to eligible candidates is to be provided on an equal basis and without regard to political affiliation, and are to be used by candidates or staff only for transition purposes.

· Candidates will be expressly authorized to establish at any time a separate 501(c)(4) fund comprised of campaign monies and/or separately raised funds (with a $5,000 per person contribution limit) to cover any transition-related expenses or to supplement the services provided through GSA.

Encourage administration preparation for transfer of power:

Not every incumbent administration has or can be expected to make transition planning the priority it was made by the Bush Administration. Nonetheless, bringing greater awareness to the public – as well as to political and career agency personnel – of the critical value of a well-prepared transfer of power can enhance the likelihood of effective transition planning.

· Authorization of appropriations expressly for use by the Administration to plan and coordinate activities by the Departments and agencies to facilitate an efficient transfer of power, which may include, among other activities:

· Establishment and operation of a transition coordinating council comprised of such high-level administration officials, or their designees, as the Chief of Staff to the President, Cabinet Secretaries, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Administrator of GSA, Director of the Office of Management Personnel, and other senior officials.

· Establishment and operation of an agency transition directors’ council, which would include career employees designated to lead transition efforts within Departments or agencies.

· Development of briefing materials on Departments and agencies and the major issues facing an incoming administration.

· Development of computer software, publications, contingency plans, issue memoranda, memoranda of understanding, training (including crisis training), programs, and other items appropriate for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of a presidential transition.

· The Administration shall provide reports to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform six months and three months before the election describing the activities undertaken by the Administration, Departments, and agencies to prepare for the anticipated or potential transfer of power.