How to Manage a Presidential Transition - Hero

Presidential Transitions

A US presidential transition, when new or second-term presidents prepare to carry out their agendas, is a complex and critical period. During this time, federal government agencies have their work cut out for them: they must adapt quickly to new mandates, policies, and, in many cases, new departmental leadership.

The transition to a new presidential term is a months-long, massive undertaking—and one of the key hallmarks of US democracy. Effective governance on a national scale depends on a smooth White House transition process and seamless alignment with the new or returning administration’s priorities. Just as important is the ability of federal government agencies to react to the demands of this period.

BCG’s Experience with Presidential Transitions

Our experts provide comprehensive resources to help administrations hit the ground running as they prepare for four years in office. We understand that the following priorities are key to launching an effective transition:

  • Executing the First 100 Days. New presidents have to move quickly and set the tone to gain momentum. Second-term officeholders should take advantage of the postelection honeymoon period.
  • Pushing a Policy Agenda. The administration needs to plan executive actions, a management agenda, a budget proposal, and potential legislation—as well as deliver on campaign promises.
  • Staffing the White House and Appointing Federal Positions. Leaders must ensure that the Oval Office is running smoothly and is prepared to assume governing responsibility. More than 4,000 presidential appointments are required, over 1,200 of which need Senate confirmation.
  • Getting Up to Speed on Federal Agencies. This involves organizing and training leadership teams for an expansive and essential network of civil servants.
  • Communicating with the American People. A broad strategy is needed for communicating appointments, programs, and policies with Congress, the media, and the general public.

The work isn’t confined to the White House. Federal government agencies, particularly, bear the brunt of the transition, while civil servants—the backbone of government—are responsible for managing changes as they occur. New policies mean new organizational priorities, a turnover in high-level leadership positions, and, in many cases, the need to reimagine how things get done.

BCG’s deep experience in partnering with the highest levels of the public sector, and our wide-ranging capabilities in related topics, serve new administrations and agencies well during presidential transitions.

Discover Our Work with the Partnership for Public Service

BCG has worked with the Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition since 2012 to produce resources for three presidential transitions, including a curriculum for senior leaders, counsel for transition teams, and the Presidential Transition Guide, which is the first comprehensive document of its kind.

Learn About Our Presidential Transition Expertise

During a presidential transition, the presidential administration and federal government agencies plan for change—organizing for success, building new teams, and clearly expressing their objectives. In a landscape of uncertainty and transformation, agencies can look to BCG for expertise in the following topics:

Large-Scale Change. Many public sector organizations operate in a state of constant flux, but a new term requires extra diligence and adaptability.

Leadership Development. Turnover is a reality in any presidential transition. New leaders must be ready to take charge of their organizations and to build effective teams.

Digital Government. Change is inevitable. Federal government agencies must harness technology and AI solutions to transform themselves while managing costs.

Taxpayer Experience. Even amid change, agencies must continue to provide for citizens. Presidential transitions provide an opportunity to implement new ways of working and to improve the user experience.

Employee Upskilling. The start of a new term provides an excellent opportunity to improve processes and develop talented teams capable of serving the American people.

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Public Sector

A presidential transition is no excuse for public sector organizations to slow down. Even during a transition, citizens need these organizations to continue devising creative solutions to complex problems. BCG helps the public sector improve how it operates so that it can meet, and exceed, its high-stakes goals.

BCG Insights on Agency Transitions

This three-part series provides government leaders with the insights they need to execute their agendas quickly and effectively, starting with the first 100 days of a new administration.

Meet BCG’s Experts in the Public Sector and Presidential Transitions

Our Latest Thinking on the Biden Administration’s Priorities

Presidential Transitions

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