President Bush Discusses the Transition with Employees of the Executive Office of the President
Here's White House Press Secretary Dana Perino with more on what's happening between the two sides.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. Mr. Vice President and Lynne, thank you for being here with us. Laura and I welcome you to the South Lawn -- better known as Barney's playground. (Laughter.)
I want to thank members of my Cabinet who've joined us. We've just finished a Cabinet meeting, and it gave me a chance to tell them how much I appreciate the good work they're doing during this critical time for our nation.
I also appreciate the men and women who make up the Executive Office of the President for joining us today. (Applause.) Some of you have been at the White House for just a few months. Others arrived the same day that we did nearly eight years ago. You're the ones who can tell that my hair has gotten a little grayer. (Laughter.) Others are career employees who have been here for 30, or 40, sometimes 50 years. I can tell that your hair has gotten grayer. (Laughter.)
The people on this lawn represent diverse backgrounds, talents, and experiences. Yet we all share a steadfast devotion to the United States. We believe that service to our fellow citizens is a noble calling -- and the privilege of a lifetime.
This is an exciting time for our country. Earlier this week, more than 120 million people voted for a new President and Congress -- one of the largest turnouts in the history of the country. No matter how we cast our ballots, this election gives us all reason to be proud of our democracy and our country. And I hope you will join Laura and me in congratulating President-Elect Obama, and wishing him the very best for his family and our country. (Applause.)
Just before our inauguration in 2001, Laura and I went back to Midland, Texas -- she was born there and I was raised there. I said that Laura and I would "never quite settle in Washington." I told them: "While the honor is great, the work is temporary." This is true for many of us here today. This peaceful transfer of power is one of the hallmarks of a true democracy. And ensuring that this transition is as smooth as possible is a priority for the rest of my presidency. We face economic challenges that will not pause to let a new President settle in. This will also be America's first wartime presidential transition in four decades. We're in a struggle against violent extremists determined to attack us -- and they would like nothing more than to exploit this period of change to harm the American people.
So over the next 75 days, all of us must ensure that the next President and his team can hit the ground running. For more than a year now, departments and agencies throughout the federal government have been preparing for a smooth transition. We've provided intelligence briefings to the President-Elect, and the Department of Justice has approved security clearances for members of his transition staff. In the coming weeks, we will ask administration officials to brief the Obama team on ongoing policy issues, ranging from the financial markets to the war in Iraq. I look forward to discussing those issues with the President-Elect early next week.
Offices within the White House are at work preparing extensive transition materials. We're preparing career employees throughout the administration to take on added responsibilities to help prevent any disruption to the essential functions of the federal government.
Taken together, these measures represent an unprecedented effort to ensure that the executive branch is prepared to fulfill its responsibilities at all times. As we carry out this transition I know that you will continue to conduct yourselves with the decency and professionalism you have shown throughout my time in office.
A successful transition is just one of many important tasks remaining in our last 75 days. To help address the global financial crisis, the Secretary of Treasury is working endless hours, and I will host an international summit here in Washington on November the 15th. This will be a historic meeting -- and I'm confident that you will work hard to help make it a success.
We'll also keep urging Congress to approve America's free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. And we will continue to protect this homeland by defeating the terrorists and extremists abroad, so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)
As January 20th draws near, some of you may be anxious about finding a new job, or a new place to live. I know how you feel. (Laughter.) But between now and then, we must keep our attention on the task at hand -- because the American people expect no less. Earlier this year, I promised that I would sprint to the finish. I am keeping that promise, and I know I have given some of you a good workout along the way. As we head into this final stretch, I ask you to remain focused on the goals ahead. I will be honored to stand with you at the finish line. May God bless you.
END 11:19 A.M. EST
Fact Sheet: Ensuring a Smooth and Effective Presidential Transition
The Administration's Preparations for the Transition are Unprecedented in Scope and Depth
Today, the Transition Coordinating Council (TCC) will meet for the second time, continuing the Administration's comprehensive transition efforts. The peaceful transfer of power from one Presidential Administration to the next is a hallmark of American democracy. With our Nation at war, our homeland targeted by terrorist adversaries, and our economy facing serious challenges, the Administration is committed to establishing and executing a transition plan that minimizes disruption, maintains continuity, and addresses the major changes in government since the 2000 transition, including the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, as well as the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Homeland Security Council.
* The TCC will help ensure that the Administration's efforts are comprehensive and well coordinated. The TCC membership includes the President's Chief of Staff and others with authority and expertise in areas that affect a Presidential transition, as well as senior officials in critical areas such as national security, homeland security, and our economy.
* Executive Order 13476, which was signed by President Bush in October and created the TCC, contains a provision which allows the TCC to "obtain a wide range of facts and information on prior transitions and best practices" by seeking the expertise of outside individuals. The experts attending today's meeting are from both parties and varying backgrounds. They include:
o Andy Card, former Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush and Director of the 1992 Bush-Clinton Transition
o Mack McLarty, former Chief of Staff to former President Clinton
o Jennifer Dorn, National Academy of Public Administration
o Norm Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute
o Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service
This Administration's Transition Preparations Are Comprehensive
The President has directed his Cabinet and staff to be forward-leaning in all of their efforts to ensure a smooth and effective transition. It has never been more critical that a transition from one Administration to the next be as seamless as possible. This Administration has gone to great lengths to prepare the Federal government for the transition to a new Administration and to help the major-party candidates prepare for a Presidential transition. For example:
* Federal agencies and White House offices are preparing briefings for the President-elect's team on significant pending policy issues as well as the structure of those agencies and offices.
* Career executives within each agency who may assume added responsibilities before the arrival of new political appointees have been identified, briefed, and included in a wide range of preparatory activities. Office of Management and Budget officials continue to meet with these key career officials to detail their responsibilities and to clarify the transition process.
* Individual agencies are taking agency-specific steps:
o The Department of Defense's Transition Task Force is preparing to host transition teams of the President-elect.
o The Department of Homeland Security is holding conferences and exercises designed to boost incident management capabilities and cross-departmental awareness.
o On October 9-10, the Secretary of State held an offsite meeting with senior State Department and USAID leadership to discuss transition planning and foreign policy and management challenges facing the new Administration. The State Department is also preparing a list of pending political/economic commitments arranged by country.
The Administration Is Engaged In A Nonpartisan, Comprehensive, And Unprecedented Effort To Help The Two Major Party Candidates Prepare To Govern
The Administration has reached out and provided services to both campaigns. Changes made in the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act allow the Administration to work with the major-party candidates before the election. This Administration is doing more than has ever been done to help the major-party candidates prepare. The White House began working with transition representatives of both major-party candidates during the summer and has met regularly with them since then by phone and in person.
The Administration's efforts to prepare the major party candidates include:
o The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has provided intelligence briefings to the candidates. These briefings are continuing and are being supported by the entire intelligence community.
o Senior Administration officials have remained in close contact with the major-party candidates in recent months regarding important issues of national security and our current financial crisis.
o The Office of Government Ethics has trained additional staff to prepare for an increase in financial disclosure filings and has held extensive meetings with both campaign transition teams to discuss financial disclosure rules.
The Administration has also worked to facilitate a speedy security clearance process for key transition personnel. Historically, one of the biggest challenges faced by incoming Administrations has been the time required to obtain security clearances for key officials. The 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act allows major-party candidates to request clearances for key transition personnel before the election so that those individuals will have the necessary clearances should their candidate win.
* The White House worked with Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the transition teams to create an orderly and efficient process. To ensure a confidential process, the White House does not have access to the numbers and identities of cleared individuals. Nevertheless, the White House confirms regularly with the transition teams that the process meets the transition teams' needs.
All interactions with the candidates and their transition teams have been equitable. The cornerstone of the Administration's contact has been uniformity of access. Materials, meetings, and guidance given to one transition team are simultaneously offered to the other.
Executive Order: Facilitation of a Presidential Transition
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 7301 of title 5, United States Code, and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-458) (IRTPA), and in order to further the purposes of the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended, and to assist the presidential transition, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Presidential Transition Coordination. (a) To assist and support the transition efforts of the transition teams for the "major party" "candidates," as those terms are used in the IRTPA and defined in section 9002(2) and (6) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. 9002(2), (6)), and the President-elect, there is established a Presidential Transition Coordinating Council (Council).
(b) The Council shall be composed of the following officials or their designees:
(i) Chief of Staff to the President, who shall serve as Chair;
(ii) Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, who shall serve as Vice Chair;
(iii) Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy;
(iv) Counsel to the President;
(v) Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel;
(vi) Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs;
(vii) Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism;
(viii) Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director, National Economic Council;
(ix) Attorney General;
(x) Director of National Intelligence;
(xi) Director of the Office of Management and Budget;
(xii) Director of the Office of Personnel Management;
(xiii) Administrator of General Services;
(xiv) Archivist of the United States;
(xv) Director of the Office of Government Ethics; and
(xvi) Such others as the President or the Chair of the Council may select.
(c) The Council shall assist the major party candidates and the President-elect by making every reasonable effort to facilitate the transition between administrations. This assistance may include, among other things, providing information relevant to facilitating the personnel aspects of a presidential transition and such other information that, in the Council's judgment, is useful and appropriate, as long as providing such information is not otherwise prohibited by law.
(d) In order to obtain a wide range of facts and information on prior transitions and best practices, the Council, its members, or their designees may, from time to time, seek information from private individuals, including individuals within outside organizations, who have significant experience or expertise in presidential transitions. The Council, its members, or their designees shall endeavor to obtain such facts and information from individuals representing a range of bipartisan or nonpartisan viewpoints. If the Council, its members, or their designees find it necessary to seek advice from private individuals or outside organizations, such counsel should be sought in a manner that seeks individual advice and does not involve collective judgment or deliberation.
(e) It shall be the policy of the Council to provide appropriate information and assistance to the major party candidates on an equal basis and without regard for party affiliation.
Sec. 2. Transition Activities and Materials. (a) At the direction of the Council or its designee(s), the Administrator of General Services shall coordinate orientation activities with the appropriate agencies, including the Office of Government Ethics and the Office of Personnel Management, for key prospective presidential appointees.
(b) At the direction of the Council or its designee(s), the White House Office of Presidential Personnel shall supplement as appropriate and necessary the electronic record of all title 5 presidentially appointed positions provided by the Office of Personnel Management to the major party candidates pursuant to section 8403(b) of IRTPA.
(c) The Suitability and Security Clearance Performance Accountability Council shall coordinate with the Council when performing those functions authorized by Executive Order 13467 of June 30, 2008, that are necessary to assist in transition-related activities.
(d) At the direction of the Council or its designee(s), executive departments and agencies shall prepare a set of briefing materials for new political appointees before the inauguration of the President-elect. The current Administration shall work with the incoming transition team to provide copies of all such materials.
(e) At the direction of the Council or its designee(s) and consistent with the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended, the Administrator of General Services, in consultation with the Archivist of the United States and other appropriate agencies, shall develop a Transition Directory. This directory shall include Federal publications and other materials that provide information on each executive department and agency.
Sec. 3. Transition Agreements. To assist and support the transition, transition agreements between the White House or appropriate executive branch departments and agencies and the transition teams for the major party candidates and the President-elect will be entered into, as necessary, regarding transition procedures and identification of transition contacts.
Sec. 4. General Provisions. (a) In order to take appropriate account of the transition reforms made by IRTPA and to further update and clarify the presidential transition process, this order supersedes Executive Order 13176 of November 27, 2000.
(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) authority granted by law to a department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(c) This order is intended only to facilitate the transition and is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, by any party against the United States, its agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(d) Unless extended by the President, this order shall expire on February 20, 2009.
GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
October 9, 2008.