Theme Panel: Transformations during Presidential Transitions: How Scholars Can Help
Fri, September 2, 2:00 to 3:30pm
This themed roundtable focuses on presidential transitions and the ways scholars are helping the next president navigate this transformative period in U.S. politics.
Description: One of the greatest transformations in U.S. politics is the transition between presidents. The exchange of power between administrations occurs with thousands of federal appointments, an overhaul of much of the White House staff and cabinet, as well as hundreds of important policy decisions. This transformation formally occurs over the chaotic 11-weeks between Election Day and the Inauguration. In the past, newly-elected presidents have started this transition process from scratch with the outgoing administration providing limited assistance, especially when the transition occurred between political parties. This practice was fraught with confusion and inefficiencies, and raised significant security concerns.
More recently, scholars have sought to help newly elected presidents with expert advice, recommendations, and institutional histories. Since 2000, the most prominent group of scholars has been directed by Professors Martha Joynt Kumar and Terry Sullivan. Under the auspices of the White House Transition Project, experts from a variety of political science sub-fields have assembled briefing books on selected White House offices and provided them to new staff. The materials in those briefing books include original interviews, analytical studies, organizational charts, and other resources. Most of the materials are publicly available through the project’s website and many of the interviews are available through a National Archives website devoted to the project. Presidents Bush and Obama (as well as candidates McCain and Romney) used this information in 2000 and again in 2008 to promote seamless transitions of power. In 2016 funded by the Moody Foundation, the White House Transition Project will again coordinate expert assistance for the upcoming presidential transition.
This APSA roundtable will offer the chance for White House Transition Project experts to debate key aspects of presidential transitions, share the type of information provided to the 2016 candidates, and discuss ways for political scientists to contribute to the next administration.
Heath Brown, City University of New York, Graduate Center and John Jay College
Martha Joynt Kumar, White House Transition Project
Nancy Kassop, SUNY New Paltz
David E. Lewis, Vanderbilt University
Matthew N. Beckmann, University of California, Irvine
Charles E. Walcott
Terry Sullivan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill