About Presidential Transitions
“The Congress declares it to be the purpose of this Act to promote the orderly transfer of the executive power in connection with the expiration of the term of office of the President and the inauguration of a new President.”
The transfer of power from one administration to the next marks a significant moment in U.S. history. The Presidential Transition Acts of 1963 and 2015 give the General Services Administration (GSA) a prominent role in this process. They authorize the Administrator of GSA to provide the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect the services and facilities needed to assume their official duties.
Presidential records are defined as "documentary materials, or any reasonably segregable portion thereof, created or received by the President, his immediate staff, or a unit or individual of the Executive Office of the President whose function is to advise and assist the President, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory or other official or ceremonial duties of the President…" (44 U.S.C. 2201(2).) These records can be in a variety of formats, including paper documents, photographs, motion picture film, tape recordings and electronic records. Presidential records are governed by the Presidential Records Act and are not subject to the Federal Records Act.
The National Archives and Records Management Administration (NARA) guide, Documenting Your Public Service, provides high-level Government officials with basic information to enable them to distinguish Federal records from other documentary materials, including personal files.
Agencies with Special Responsibilities
Some agencies have special responsibilities when it comes to preparing for and supporting a Presidential Transition and/or Presidential Inaugural.
- General Services Administration
- National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
- Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
- Department of Defense (DoD)
- Office of Government Ethics (OGE)
Executive Branch Resources
The information provided here is from the latest edition of the U.S. Government Manual. Since its last publication, the incumbents of some positions may have changed. For the most current information, we recommend that you go to the agency's website.
The General Services Administration (GSA) plays an important role in Presidential Transition, including providing a variety of services needed to help them assume their official duties. To facilitate this process GSA has assembled a number of teams:
- Incoming Presidential Transition Team
- Inaugural Team
- Internal GSA Transition Team
- Outgoing Administration Team
Presidential Inauguration Support
GSA’s Inaugural Support Team, provides a full suite of services to the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC), the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee (AFIC) and other governmental entities.
Another key component of support for the inauguration is the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee (AFIC).
Laws & Regulations
Presidential Transitions in the United States are proscribed by a variety of Federal Laws beginning with the Presidential Transition Act of 1963. Additional legislation is passed to ensure that the process continues to reflect the changes in culture and technological progress.
Review the pertinent points of each piece of legislation governing Presidential Transition:
- Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015
- Pre-Election Transition Act of 2010
- Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004
- Presidential Transition Act of 2000
- Presidential Transition Act of 1963
The Plum Book, published by the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Government Reform, lists over 7,000 Federal civil service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment, nationwide.
Data covers positions such as agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisors, and aides who report to these officials.