Presidential Transition

Presidential Transition

Preparing to lead the nation, whether as a presidential hopeful or an incumbent seeking a second term, requires extensive planning on personnel, policy, the budget and governance.

This transition work must begin in the midst of the presidential campaign so a new administration will be ready to govern on day one, and so that a second-term president will be prepared for a fresh start.

Managed well, this planning can lead to success. Handled poorly, a president can be susceptible to strategic errors and face difficulty responding to serious national security and domestic challenges.


Center for Presidential Transition

The Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition® is the nation’s premier nonpartisan source of information and resources designed to help presidential candidates and their teams lay the groundwork for a new administration and incumbent presidents prepare for a second term.

The Center provides critical assistance on organizing a presidential transition; helps career officials prepare for incoming leadership; offers guidance to political appointees on unique aspects of government management; promotes transition improvements; and provides guidance on second term planning.

Political Appointee is sworn in

Ready to Govern

Ready to Govern is a series of 90-minute onboarding sessions designed to help incoming political appointees and federal leaders navigate a complex federal organization and succeed in their new roles.

Appointees can participate in up to 11 modules featuring proven content developed from hundreds of conversations with federal leaders. These sessions are led by bipartisan faculty comprised of current or former political appointees and career executives.

White House and an American flag

Ready to Serve

Our Ready to Serve website is a one-stop-shop that helps candidates seeking all types of presidential appointments evaluate their qualifications and navigate the complex nomination and confirmation processes. The site provides guides, webinars and expert advice from former political appointees on background investigations, completing financial disclosure and ethics forms, the Senate confirmation experience and more.

US President Joe Biden arrives to swears in presidential appointees during a virtual ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, after being sworn in at the US Capitol on January 20, 2021. (Getty)

Political Appointee Tracker

Presidents are required to fill roughly 4,000 politically appointed government positions, including more than 1,200 jobs that require Senate confirmation. Despite the importance of these jobs, there is no up-to-date source of information about who holds these positions, which jobs are vacant or the status of Senate confirmations.

In December 2016, The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service began tracking the status of key management positions to address this problem. Since then, the tracker has shed light on our government’s growing struggle—regardless of which party controls Congress and the White House—to fill key Senate-confirmed positions.

Our data raises public awareness about the critical vacancies that stymy government effectiveness and helps hold elected officials responsible for filling key presidential appointments. We currently track the nomination and confirmation of about 800 of the 1,200 positions requiring Senate confirmation, including Cabinet secretaries, chief financial officers, general counsels, ambassadors and other critical leadership jobs.


Transition Lab

Transition Lab is a 48-episode podcast series offering listeners an in-depth look at presidential transitions. Each episode features prominent guests and covers topics ranging from how our government orchestrates a transfer of power to the most historic handoffs of the American presidency.


Advisory Board

Former Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush

Former United States Senator, Former Chair of the Biden-Harris Transition

Former Governor of Utah, Former Chair of the Romney Readiness Project

Former Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton

Former Secretary of the Department of Commerce


August 16, 2023
Presidential Transitions are a Perilous Moment for National Security
History can provide lessons for future administrations to prepare for unforeseen crises.
April 25, 2023
Effective presidential transitions can earn the public’s trust
Almost half of Americans are unsure a 2024 transition would be peaceful

Presidential transitions can only be effective if the public trusts that the people involved will honor the results of democratic elections and value the need for new administrations to prepare to govern even before taking office. The Center for Presidential Transition® conducted a nationally representative survey to understand the country’s views on the custom of presidential transfers of power. The survey found that 56% of Americans agreed a peaceful transition would take place if a different candidate wins in 2024. By contrast, 44% of Americans did not think a transfer would be peaceful or were unsure. The public’s doubt should serve as both a call to action and an opportunity. Government leaders and organizations such as the Center must support public understanding of the importance of peaceful transitions as a critical function of our democracy.

January 19, 2023

As President Joe Biden’s administration enters its third year, conventional wisdom suggests there will be a number of key changes to the leadership teams running federal agencies. Some senior officials will get promoted while others will leave. Some will just be starting their jobs after finally getting through the lengthy Senate confirmation process. In the past six months, about 230 people have been confirmed by the Senate to begin work in key leadership roles.

August 01, 2022
(Not so) Privileged nomination calendar
Nominees in a streamlined confirmation process are taking almost 50% longer to confirm than all other nominees

The Senate created the privileged nomination process more than a decade ago, a procedure designed to speed up the confirmation of nominees for roughly 280 positions that are typically noncontroversial. Despite this well-intentioned effort, nominees on the privileged calendar are worse off today than they were before the reform was adopted.

May 24, 2022

Data from the Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition reveals chronic delays at nearly every step of the presidential nomination and congressional confirmation process—even for the national security positions that all stakeholders agree are essential to minimize threats during the first months of a new administration.

January 20, 2022

This report by the Partnership and Boston Consulting Group looks back at the 2020-21 presidential transition and offers key recommendations to improve future transfers of power. Read our findings and watch our special report release event to learn more.

January 10, 2022

The Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition has been tracking Senate-confirmed presidential appointments since late 2016. This year, we tracked and analyzed how President Joe Biden’s first year in office compares with the previous three presidents, examining his nominations and confirmations from Jan. 20, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2021.

August 09, 2021

Using appointments data from the Political Appointee Tracker compiled by the Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post along with expert analysis, this report highlights key trends in filling Senate-confirmed positions and in the nomination and confirmation process.

April 14, 2021

Despite unprecedented challenges, President Biden oversaw one of the most well-planned presidential transitions in U.S. history. The Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition supported this process behind the scenes, providing key insights to the Biden team as it prepared to potentially take office and working with stakeholders across government to facilitate an effective transfer of power.

Federal agencies face a cascading series of challenges before and after a presidential election and into the early months of a new administration. Throughout the transition, the Partnership for Public Service brought together agency transition leaders from nearly 40 agencies to help improve this process.

The Center for Presidential Transition’s comprehensive guide on the activities required during the transition. This guide for the 2020 presidential election cycle was produced in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group.

March 10, 2020

Introduction In passing the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, Congress explained: “Any disruption occasioned by the transfer of the executive power could produce results detrimental to the safety and well-being of the United States and its people.”

See All