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Jennifer Close
Program Manager
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jclose@ourpublicservice.org

Ready to Govern

Ready to Govern

Overview

In early 2008, the Partnership for Public Service launched Ready to Govern to offer recommendations for the presidential transition and introduce a framework for effective management in the new administration. The centerpiece is a strategy to build and lead a first-rate federal workforce.

Any president’s success rests largely on his ability to effectively manage federal operations, with the help of a highly skilled management team. Amid tremendous pressure to score major policy victories in the first year, the new administration must also quickly invest in government’s long-term organizational health. Through our efforts in this project, we hope to make recommendations and provide assistance that enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of future presidential transitions.

Goals

Our primary objectives for this effort are to:

  • Contribute reliable information to the general election campaign dialogue, positions, and analysis;
  • Publish a viable reform agenda, with transition recommendations for the next administration;
  • Directly assist the new administration through its transition; and
  • Provide useful counsel and perspectives to the next generation of political appointees and transition coordinators.

Related Documents

Ready to Govern: Improving the Presidential Transition
The constitutional transfer of presidential power has been one of the hallmarks of American democracy—a peaceful ritual that provides continuity for our government as well as an opportunity for change and renewal. Based on the Partnership's interviews with key transition officials from both the Obama and McCain campaigns, and the Bush White House, Ready to Govern: Improving the Presidential Transition examines the transition beginning in early 2008 through President Obama’s first year in office. The report takes a behind-the-scenes look at President Obama and John McCain’s transition operations and their successes and shortcomings.

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Roadmap to Reform: A Management Framework for the Next Administration
Effective government requires effective management. For too long, our federal government’s operational challenges have received insufficient attention, with serious consequences for the nation. The transition from one presidential administration to the next offers an important opportunity to tackle this problem. To help shape the next president’s management reform framework, a number of leading government reform experts forged a consensus about critical federal workforce management issues and actions our next president should take to improve government operations. These proposals concentrate on improving the federal government by focusing on its greatest asset – its people.

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Presidential Transition Assessment
To offer a basic framework for future presidential transitions, the Partnership is analyzing this year’s effort in three parts: interviews with officials from the two major presidential campaigns, the outgoing and incoming administrations, and federal agencies to learn about their experiences and gather advice for their successors; a set of legislative recommendations to amend the Presidential Transition Act; and a survey of new appointees and agency transition directors. In January 2010, the Partnership will release a final report including the results of these components, providing an assessment of the 2008-2009 presidential transition that will serve as an operational manual for future transition coordinators.

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Preparing Presidential Appointees for Leadership
The key to an effective presidential transition is getting appointees in place and up to speed as quickly as possible. Although each administration has its own approach to orienting and bringing together its new leadership team, knowledge of how past administrations have tackled that essential task can serve as a useful resource for those to follow. With the combination of the Partnership and the Council for Excellence in Government in early 2009, the Partnership gained a great deal of knowledge about past presidential transitions based on the Council’s extensive research and appointee orientation activities under the Clinton and George W. Bush administration. One particularly valuable resource is this report, which documents the appointee orientation efforts taken by each administration since the Eisenhower administration.

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Human Capital Roundtables – “Three Burning Questions for the Next President”
Working with CNA, the Partnership conducted a series of roundtable discussions with diverse groups of top-level officials and key stakeholders offer advice on three important workforce management issues: federal compensation, managing a multi-sector workforce, and building collaboration.

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How to Survive and Thrive during the Presidential Transition
On January 15, 2009, John Palguta, Katie Malague and Chris Nenno of the Partnership delivered a presentation to employees at the Department of Education to discuss the opportunities and challenges of the presidential transition. This article, taken from a Department of Education newsletter, summarizes the briefing, entitled “How to Survive and Thrive during the Presidential Transition.”

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An Event with Young Government Leaders – “Surviving the Presidential Transition”
Many “young to government” professionals have not worked through a change in presidential leadership and are curious about how it will affect them and how to successfully manage the transition. To help answer these questions, the Partnership for Public Service and Young Government Leaders asked presidential transition experts to discuss their experiences and perspectives on managing the next transition.

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Senate Can Help New President Get on His Feet, Roll Call
Max Stier, the president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, and Howard Paster, who was responsible for the confirmation of the Cabinet and sub-Cabinet in 1993 and who served as President Clinton’s first director of legislative affairs, advise the U.S. Senate on the four things they should do to ensure our nation’s next leadership team is in place and prepared to govern. “For the first time in 48 years, a sitting U.S. Senator will soon become president. His first management challenge will be overseeing the transition and getting his leadership team in place and up to speed. It’s a critical test because getting the next president’s national security and economic teams in place by Inauguration Day is essential to the safety and security of all Americans.”

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It's Not Too Soon to Plan the Transition, Wall Street Journal
Max Stier, the president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, and Gary Ginsberg, an executive vice president of News Corp. who served on the Clinton transition team in 1992, advise presidential candidates on three things they should do to ensure the next presidency gets off to the right start. “We know you're busy campaigning and the election is just four months off. But what should be occupying a large portion of your time right now is how you will govern after the election when you have some 4,000 posts to fill.”

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