President Barack Obama recently signed a law to make the successes of the 2009 presidential transition the rule for 2017, and policy watchers are showing their approval.
Obama signed the Edward "Ted" Kaufman and Michael Leavitt Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015 on March 18, providing more time and resources for his administration to prepare its handoff to the 45th presidency.
The new law requires the administration to establish a White House transition coordinating council and an agency transition directors council no later than six months before the November election.
It also requires executive agencies to designate a senior career employee to oversee transition activities, including the General Services Administration, who will serve as Federal Transition Coordinator and orchestrate transition planning across agencies.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., passed out of Congress on March 8 and drew praise from policy watchers who have studied past transitions.
"The strong bipartisan support for this legislation reflects the importance of cooperation across government in ensuring a smooth presidential transition. The bill fundamentally improves how the outgoing administration, federal agencies and the incoming teams work together on a seamless transfer of knowledge and power," said Partnership for Public Service president Max Stier, in a statement.
"Any presidential candidate who is still in the race at the end of this month should designate a transition chairman by the first week of April and prepare to take full advantage of this important legislation."
Presidential transitions have often been an exercise in singularity as the handoff between administrations is defined by the circumstances of everything from a contested election in 2000 to the growing technological requirements of running the government.
Planning for the 2009 presidential transition began uncharacteristically early, during the summer of 2008, but as transitions become more complex, more planning time is needed.
Policy groups like The Partnership for Public Service and the National Academy of Public Administration have put together panels of transition experts to study how to effectively develop best practices for the transition, since it is now seen as one of the more vulnerable times for the federal government to be attacked.
"We've come to the realization that transition teams will be drinking from the proverbial fire hose," NAPA president Dan Blair said in January when talking to Federal Times about transition efforts. "So what they are going to need is real-time information so they can formulate that policy."
With the new law in place, there's hope the new administration will have a little more of a head start.