Presidential Transition
Close

Presidential Transition

For nearly 250 years, the peaceful transfer of power has been a hallmark of American democracy and central to the continuity of government. The United States’ ability to address its most critical challenges rely on this tradition to continue.

Yet executing a successful presidential transition, or the start of a second term, requires serious planning and requires extensive knowledge of federal personnel, policy and budgeting issues. Handled poorly, both first- and second-term presidents can struggle to implement campaign promises and respond to serious national security and domestic challenges.

Since 2008, the Partnership has been the nation’s leading nonpartisan organization that works with federal agency leaders, presidential candidate transition teams, outgoing presidents and those seeking a second term to ensure that our next president is fully prepared to govern.

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 assists presidential candidates, the incumbent administration and agencies with transition or second-term planning, prepares political appointees to succeed, advocates for legislative reform and shapes the national conversation on transition issues.  

LEARN MORE
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.

LEARN MORE Learn about our impact

Ready to Serve

Our Ready to Serve resources give aspiring political appointees the information and tools needed to navigate the federal appointments process. We help prospective appointees learn about possible roles, background checks, ethics requirements, and, for the most senior-level positions, the Senate confirmation process.

LEARN 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.

The Political Appointee tracker, run by the Partnership and The Washington Post, addresses this problem, shedding light on our government’s growing struggle—regardless of which party controls Congress and the White House—to fill key Senate-confirmed positions.

LEARN MORE

Transition Lab

Our “Transition Lab” podcast offers listeners an in-depth look at presidential transitions, exploring how transfers of power occur, current and past transition cycles, and the relationship between the handoff of presidential power and our democracy.

LEARN MORE

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

Resources

Thumbnail for 2023 Presidential Transition Guide: A Comprehensive Guide to the Activities Required During the Transition

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.

Thumbnail for 2023 Agency Transition Guide: A Comprehensive Guide to the Activities Required During Agency Transitions

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.

Thumbnail for Presidential Transition Act Summary
March 13, 2024

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.”

Thumbnail for Political Appointments Over Time

See how the Senate confirmation process is taking longer than ever before for top positions in recent presidential administrations.

Thumbnail for The States of Our Union
September 14, 2023
The States of Our Union
Working with State and Local Partners to Achieve Change
Thumbnail for Effective presidential transitions can earn the public’s trust
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.

Thumbnail for Advice to Incoming Agency Leaders From Those Who Have Been There
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.

Thumbnail for (Not so) Privileged nomination calendar
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.

Thumbnail for Slow Nominations and Confirmations Pose a Threat to National Security
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.

Thumbnail for The 2020-21 Presidential Transition: Lessons Learned and Recommendations
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.

Thumbnail for Joe Biden’s First Year in Office: Nominations and Confirmations
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.

Thumbnail for Unconfirmed: Why reducing the number of senate-confirmed positions can make government more effective
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.

Thumbnail for The 2020-21 Presidential Looking Back: The Center for Presidential Transition’s Pivotal Role in the 2020–21 Trump to Biden Transfer of Power
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.

See All

Our Experts