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Nick Wakeman

The transition and what's at stake

This blog won’t bring you any special insight into the market or a new opportunity, but it should remind all of us how important the transition from one president to the next is.

Speaking at Deltek’s FedFocus event this week, Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project, provide some needed historical perspective.

On the morning of Jan. 20, 2009, President-elect Barrack Obama and Michelle Obama met for coffee at the White House with President George W. Bush and Laura Bush. It’s a nice tradition.

At the same time, in the White House Situation Room, Obama’s incoming national security and homeland security team was meeting with their outgoing counterparts. But this wasn’t a happy meet and greet. The inauguration was threat of an improvised explosive device.

“No one knew how serious it was,” she said. And just an hour and half before the swearing in, they were working together to figure out what to do.

Why this worked was because just a few weeks before this point, these players had met and run through threat scenarios together as part of a table top exercise. People such as outgoing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had met with Hillary Clinton ahead of time and brought their respective teams together.

“The cooperation that existed in 2008 was very different than previous transitions,” Kumar said.

She related the story of how President Truman tried to ease the transition to the next president and set up a framework for the transition even before the election had taken place. He was bothered by what he didn’t know when he became president after Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945.

Truman was rebuffed by Dwight Eisenhower, who went on to become president.

So, it took a few more decades to get to the kind of transition planning we now are seeing. Both the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Trump campaign had transition teams in place in August.

Obama is following the model established when he came to office.

No matter who won the election, the stakes are just as high if not higher today than in 2008, so the message of stability and continuity is a welcome one.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 16, 2016 at 1:18 PM


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