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From the Front Office - The 2016 Presidential Transition 

By Anita Breckenridge, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, The White House, Andrew Mayock, Senior Advisor, Office of Management and Budget & Co-Chair of the Agency Transition Directors Council (ATDC), and Tim Horne, Federal Transition Coordinator & Co-Chair of the Agency Transition Directors Council (ATCD)

Over the next few months, the Federal government will transition from President Obama to the next President of the United States. President Obama is grateful for the time and care put into the transition by the George W. Bush Administration and is approaching this Presidential transition with the same high standard and professionalism as in 2008. To that end, for the past six months the Administration has been preparing for a smooth and seamless transition working hand-in-hand with senior career officials across the government.

We began this past March, when White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough convened the Cabinet and senior White House staff to discuss the Administration’s transition plan, which was developed on the basis of best practices and lessons learned from past transitions. This was followed by an Executive Order signed by President Obama in May establishing the White House Transition Coordinating Council (WHTCC) and the Agency Transition Directors Council (ATDC) – the earliest formal interagency transition-related preparations ever undertaken by the Federal government. The WHTCC, which is chaired by the Chief of Staff to the President, is comprised of senior Administration officials with authority and expertise in areas affecting the Presidential transition, and is responsible for overseeing and facilitating the overall transition effort. Meanwhile, the ATDC is made up of career SES officials from 21 agencies and is responsible for coordinating transition activities across agencies in consultation with the President’s Management Council (PMC).

Since their establishment, the councils have met each month to discuss agency transition preparations, including succession planning and the development of agency briefing materials for the incoming Administration. In the spirit of approaching our work through a demand-driven lens, the council has engaged in discussions with individuals with previous experience in Presidential transitions both from an incoming and outgoing perspective, as well as across agencies. The career SES agency transition directors have brought significant knowledge and experience to these important conversations that have been key to planning the 2016 Presidential Transition.

To ensure a whole of government approach, we have also been convening meetings in parallel with small agencies, boards and commissions not represented on the ATDC in order to keep them informed. In addition, we recently published a “Transition Overview” guide to provide all federal employees with a high-level roadmap, which you can find at along with other transition materials and guidance documents. If you have questions, please reach out to your agency transition director or the point of contact at the above website.

As we continue our transition efforts in the coming weeks, we want to acknowledge the critical role Federal employees, particularly senior executives, play in this time of change. The Senior Executive Service (SES) is the backbone of our government and will be the driving force behind the transition effort. Your leadership, dedication, and institutional knowledge are the greatest resources for both the incoming and outgoing administrations. Thank you for your commitment to continuing the important work we do on behalf of the American people until the end of this Administration and beyond.