January 14, 2017

Readout of the Principal-Level Transition Exercise

 The White House on Friday afternoon convened a transition exercise with members of the President-Elect's team and Cabinet designees together with current senior White House, Cabinet, and agency leaders. The exercise provided a high-level perspective on a series of challenges that the next administration may face and introduced the key authorities, policies, capabilities, and structures that are currently in place to respond to major domestic incidents. Members of President Obama's team shared experiences and lessons from incident responses they experienced, and both sides discussed a number of response scenarios together. Participants agreed that the exercise was productive and advanced the shared goal of conducting the most professional and seamless transition possible.
Obama Administration Participants Included:
Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

Denis McDonough, Assistant to the President and White House Chief of Staff
Susan Rice, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Neil Eggleston, Assistant to the President and White House Counsel
Cecilia Munoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council
Avril Haines, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor
Dab Kern, Assistant to the President and Director, White House Military Office
Amy Pope, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy Assistant to the President
Suzy George, Deputy Assistant to the President and NSC Chief of Staff
John Holdren, Office of Science and Technology Policy Director
Shaun Donovan, Office of Management and Budget Director
Ashton Carter, Secretary of Defense
Gen Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security
Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior
Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy
John King, Secretary of Education
Nicholas Rasmussen, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center
James Comey, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director
John Brennan, Central Intelligence Agency Director
Gayle Smith, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator
Sylvia Burwell, Health and Human Services Secretary
Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Ely Ratner, Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President
Thomas Shannon, UnderSecretary of State for Political Affairs
Adam Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Department of the Treasury
Lt. Gen Todd Semonite, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Sally Yates, Deputy Attorney General
Bruce Andrews, Deputy Secretary of Commerce
Christopher Lu, Deputy Secretary of Labor
Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Department of Health and Human Services
Nani Coloretti, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development
Victor Mendez, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transportation
Kevin Hanretta, Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security, and Preparedness, Department of Veterans Affairs
Craig Fugate, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator
ADM Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard
Stanley Meiburg, Acting Deputy Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Maria Contreras-Sweet, Small Business Administration Administrator
Gen Lori Robinson, Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command
Gen Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau
Incoming Administration Participants Included:
Reince Priebus
Rex Tillerson
Steven Mnuchin
Gen. James Mattis
Rep. Ryan Zinke
Sen. Jeff Sessions
Rep. Mike Pompeo
Wilbur Ross
Betsy DeVos
Sen. Dan Coats
Andrew Puzder
Dr. Tom Price
Dr. Ben Carson
Elaine Chao
Gov. Rick Perry
Dr. David Shulkin
Gen. John Kelly
Rep. Mick Mulvaney
Linda McMahon
Sean Spicer
Joe Hagin
Stephen Miller
Marc Short
Joshua Pitcock
Tom Bossert
KT McFarland
Gen. Michael Flynn
Gary Cohn
Katie Walsh
Rick Dearborn



November 10, 2016

FACT SHEET: Facilitating a Smooth Transition to the Next Administration

The peaceful transfer of power is a bedrock principle of our democracy.  The President was grateful for the time and care put into the 2008 transition by President Bush’s Administration. That is why he directed his team last year to make a smooth transition between administrations a top priority of his final year in office even as he remained committed to using every remaining day of his presidency to deliver on his agenda for the American people.

Starting in early 2016, Administration officials began to map out the transition planning, including three key components: preparing for the incoming administration, ensuring this Administration’s records are appropriately archived, and facilitating the off-boarding of current Administration personnel.  To coordinate the planning across government, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough convened the President’s Cabinet in March to give an overview of the transition process and set the expectation that the transition should be a top priority for every federal agency. 

The President also established the White House Transition Coordinating Council (WHTCC) and the Agency Transition Directors Council (ATDC), which have met regularly throughout the year.  The transition has also been a standing agenda item for the monthly President’s Management Council (PMC) meeting, comprised of Deputy Secretaries of major agencies.  To coordinate government-wide activities, the Administration also established a regular meeting of agencies with special transition responsibilities, including the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), General Services Administration (GSA), Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Government Ethics (OGE), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  These agencies play a unique government-wide role during a presidential transition, such as DOJ which processes security clearances for the incoming teams or OGE which reviews the ethics requirements for nominees. 

After the nominating conventions, each candidate’s transition team began working out of GSA-provided space and began attending WHTCC and ATDC meetings and engaging regularly with Administration officials on their planning efforts.  For example, the Administration and both candidates’ transition teams developed common expectations for engaging with agencies so agencies knew what to expect right after the election.  This collaboration helped agencies better plan for and focus their efforts on what the transition teams would most likely need.  Throughout this period, the Administration assisted both candidates’ transition teams in a non-partisan manner, providing equitable services and information to each.

Post-Election Transition Period

As with past presidential transitions, following the Election, the Federal government has begun to engage with the President-Elect’s Transition Team (PTT).  This week, Agency Review Teams selected by the President-Elect, will begin to reach out to their designated counterparts at agencies across the government.  The President-Elect’s Agency Review Teams will receive detailed, agency-specific briefings that have been prepared by current Administration officials.  Those briefings include organizational charts, budget materials, briefings on key agency priorities and areas of responsibility, and other materials describing the essential functions of that agency.  In addition to the initial briefings, designated employees across the Administration will work closely with their Agency Review Teams in order to facilitate open communication between the outgoing and incoming Administrations.  Simultaneously, the President-Elect’s Transition Team will establish policy teams that will work out of GSA-provided office space in Washington, D.C. 

The Administration is also taking steps to ensure the next President and his or her team is prepared from day one to protect our national security.  As part of a longstanding tradition, building off the intelligence briefings the two candidates received before the election, the President-Elect and other senior officials will begin receiving daily intelligence briefings from the intelligence community. In addition, the Administration is hosting two interagency exercises to inform and familiarize the incoming administration on domestic incident management practices used by the current administration.  These exercises are designed to provide a high-level perspective on a series of challenges that the next administration may confront and to introduce the key authorities, policies, capabilities, and structures that are currently in place to respond to major domestic incidents.  

The Administration will also continue its work in the two other areas of focus: archiving records and off-boarding current Administration personnel.  Thus far, the Administration has transferred roughly 283 million files to NARA, comprising 122,000 GB of data. In addition to the transfer of electronic records, NARA has also begun to facilitate the move of the President’s physical records to Chicago, Illinois, where they will ultimately be preserved at President Obama’s library. This move includes the transfer of textual, electronic, and audiovisual records, and tens of thousands of presidential gifts.

And, the Administration is committed to providing out-going appointees the information they need to plan for their own transitions.  In support of the well-respected principle that the incoming President selects her or his own team, the President has asked appointees to submit resignation letters effective no later than the inauguration of the new President.  In conjunction with this off-boarding process, Administration officials have been working with agency personnel offices to provide additional personnel and benefits information to appointees prior to the end of the Administration.

Modernizing the Transition

In undertaking the transition, the Administration has sought to streamline, formalize, and modernize the transition.  Key improvements to the transition process that the Administration has implemented include: 

Beginning Formal Transition Planning Earlier: Recognizing the significant challenge posed by a Presidential transition, the Obama Administration began the formal transition planning process at the beginning of this year.  In May, the President signed an Executive Order appointing the first Federal Transition Coordinator to centralize transition planning across the agencies. The President also established the two transition councils, the WHTCC and ATDC – marking the earliest the Federal government has ever begun formal interagency preparations for the Presidential transition. To ensure agencies are prepared for the drastic personnel change that comes with transition, the Administration also began to prepare senior career officials who may serve in acting political positions for their new role earlier in the transition process.  

In addition, recognizing the unprecedented volume of electronic data from this administration that needs to be preserved, Administration officials began monthly planning meetings with NARA in 2012 and commenced the first testruns of data transfers in April 2015.  The Executive of the President (EOP) then began to transfer presidential records to NARA’s Electronic Records Archive in May 2016– the earliest that the EOP has ever begun transferring substantial quantities of electronic records to NARA in preparation for a transition.

Streamlined Transition Materials: In conjunction with the ATDC, the Administration hosted conversations on best practices for assembling transition materials for the next Administration.  Drawing upon the expertise of individuals with previous transition experience, these conversations resulted in tailored and more concise briefing materials that more readily addressed the needs of the incoming teams. In addition, in some cases, agencies used modern technology including collaboration websites, tablets and apps to deliver that material. For example, the DHS pre-loaded materials onto tablets in a searchable format.  

In addition, the White House has worked to better document the broader transition planning effort in order to hand the next Administration a step-by-step guide of how to manage a government-wide transition.  This effort includes documenting the Agency Review Team process, collating guidance documents, establishing key milestones, and other metrics. 

Developed Architecture for A ‘Digital Transition’: Recognizing the unique and unprecedented challenge of archiving and preserving the Administration’s digital infrastructure, the Administration set out several months ago to develop a plan that would: 1) ensure the proper archiving of all digital records, consistent with the Presidential Records Act; 2) where possible, allow real time access to the content the Administration created on the platforms in which the content originated; and 3) ensure that the next president and administration could continue to use and build upon the digital assets this Administration created to connect directly with the people they serve.  As a result, the Administration developed and released a first-of-its-kind digital transition plan that meets these key goals.  

Developed New On-Boarding Systems: One of the biggest challenges facing the incoming Administration is filling over 4,000 political appointee positions as quickly as possible.  To better streamline this process, GSA working in conjunction with the Presidential Personnel Office (PPO) and White House IT collaborated with the candidates’ transition teams to design and develop an online human resources application for the collection, categorization, assignment, and processing of applications for positions in the new Administration.  This approach combined the IT expertise of GSA and White House IT with the real-world experience of PPO who manages the appointee process from application through appointment.  This new system can serve as a single tool for processing a candidate from application through appointment, rather than the multiple systems used at the beginning of the current Administration.  In addition, PPO provided data on executive branch agencies, offices, and positions with which to populate the system, avoiding the need to duplicate the lengthy and labor-intensive data collection and entry conducted for the current system utilized by PPO.  After the Inauguration, this new tool can be utilized by the incoming President to replace the legacy system currently used by PPO, allowing the incoming Administration to use the same tool and processes before and after the Inauguration.  It can also be more easily tailored to the specific policies and processes the new Administration decides to adopt.  

In addition, the OGE has developed a new e-filing system, Integrity, which allows nominees for Presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed (PAS) positions to enter their financial disclosure information online through a secure website and for ethics officials to review the forms and communicate back with the nominees via the automated system.  In September 2016, OGE held orientation sessions on Integrity for each campaign's transition team and has been working with each team so they are prepared to use the system to enter information of potential PAS nominees starting the day after the election and throughout the Presidential transition.

Engaged Agencies Not Traditionally Included In the Formal Transition Planning Process: In addition to the formal transition councils that the President established, the Administration, for the first time, has also held formal transition planning meetings with smaller agencies, boards and commissions across the government who are not otherwise represented on the two councils.  This group, including more than 200 entities, has been engaged fully in the transition process from the beginning and has met regularly over the past several months.  The Administration undertook this whole-of-government approach to transition planning in order to help these smaller agencies, board and commissions prepare for the upcoming transition by developing briefing materials for the incoming teams, ensuring continuity of operations as they off-board appointees, and have in place the necessary infrastructure to support incoming appointees. 



Oval Office

  November 10, 2016

12:36 P.M. EST
     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with President-elect Trump.  It was wide-ranging.  We talked about some of the organizational issues in setting up the White House.  We talked about foreign policy.  We talked about domestic policy.  And as I said last night, my number-one priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our President-elect is successful. 
     And I have been very encouraged by the, I think, interest in President-elect Trump's wanting to work with my team around many of the issues that this great country faces.  And I believe that it is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together, to deal with the many challenges that we face. 
     And in the meantime, Michelle has had a chance to greet the incoming First Lady.  And we had an excellent conversation with her as well, and we want to make sure that they feel welcome as they prepare to make this transition. 
     Most of all, I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed -- because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.
     PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP:  Well, thank you very much, President Obama.  This was a meeting that was going to last for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and we were just going to get to know each other.  We had never met each other.  I have great respect.  The meeting lasted for almost an hour and a half.  And it could have -- as far as I'm concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer.
     We really -- we discussed a lot of different situations, some wonderful and some difficulties.  I very much look forward to dealing with the President in the future, including counsel.  He explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets and some of the really great things that have been achieved. 
     So, Mr. President, it was a great honor being with you, and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future. 
                             END                12:40 P.M. EDT

November 9, 2016  

Statement by the Press Secretary

From the White House residence, the President phoned Donald Trump to congratulate him on his victory early this morning. The President also called Secretary Clinton and expressed admiration for the strong campaign she waged throughout the country. 
The President will make a statement on Wednesday at the White House to discuss the election results and what steps we can take as a country to come together after this hard-fought election season. 

The President invited the President-elect to meet with him at the White House on Thursday, November 10th, to update him on the transition planning his team has been working on for nearly a year. Ensuring a smooth transition of power is one of the top priorities the President identified at the beginning of the year and a meeting with the President-elect is the next step.

November 9, 2016  

Readout of Calls from the Vice President and Dr. Biden to Vice President-elect Mike Pence and to Senator Tim Kaine and Anne Holton

This morning, the Vice President and Dr. Biden called Vice President-elect Mike Pence to congratulate him and Karen Pence.  Both the Vice President and Dr. Biden offered to help answer any questions the Pences may have to ensure that the offices of the Vice President are turned over to the Pences as smoothly and as graciously as they were handed over to the Bidens.  The Vice President expressed his admiration for the Vice President-elect and Dr. Biden told him that she knows the Pences will love the journey as much as she and the Vice President have.
The Vice President and Dr. Biden invited the Pences to join them for dinner at the Naval Observatory and offered to make the transition into their new home as smooth as possible.
The Vice President and Dr. Biden also called Senator Tim Kaine and Anne Holton. The Bidens offered their congratulations on a hard-fought race. The Vice President expressed his pride for the role Senator Kaine played in the campaign and his belief that Senator Kaine will continue to make a difference in the United States Senate. Dr. Biden and Anne Holton discussed how much they enjoyed working together on this campaign and how they plan on continuing to work together on issues they both care about.