BETTER PROGRAMS & PROJECTS
Déjà vu - Tactics - Historical - References
P2C2 Group, Inc.
Regardless of which candidate and party wins the
Presidential election in 2008, there will be a major transition to a
new administration. The Presidential Transition Act, other laws, and
precedents come into play, which we will highlight later in this
article. Yet for agency executives, Federal personnel, and contractors,
there are tactical issues that should be identified, planned, and acted
The immediacy of the 2008 election reminds me of
my own work during the many months of preparation and follow-up to the
transition in 2000. I was a contractor at Executive Office of the
President during 1999 and 2000, and I participated in the team
responsible for planning the digital transition. Later in 2000, I
prepared the enterprise IT briefing that a departmental CIO was to use
in briefing the incoming Presidential Transition Team. Following the
inauguration, I remained at the department for some time and observed
the early implementation of the transition.
This article is a way of sharing insights that
may be useful in 2008 and beyond. It focuses primarily on tactics for
agency Chief Information Officers and program investment managers.
So what picture are you going to present to the
incoming Presidential Transition Team between December 2008 and January
2009? Below are ideas on how to prepare. Undoubtedly your agency
is pursuing some of these action steps, but the overall list of tactics
can be a good checklist nonetheless.
Tidy your portfolio. Investment managers
of mutual funds and pension programs clean up their portfolios every
year—normally before showcasing their performance in annual reports. It
behooves agency managers to tidy their IT investment portfolios, so
that they can showcase strong performance that is uncluttered by
mistakes and disappointments.
It isn’t always possible to terminate a
problematic investment immediately. But at minimum you can have a
transition plan in place, which leads to consolidation, or the target
architecture, or decommissioning. Such a plan should be specific, have
a concrete business and technical solution, and include date-specific
There are powerful software tools to help your
agency improve analysis, forecasting, and control of IT investment
portfolios. But if they are not already implemented, you should not
delay tidying your portfolio, using whatever information and
disciplined processes that are immediately available.
Nail down achievements. So what has your
agency accomplished for its billions (or hundreds of millions) of
dollars in IT investments over the past several years? You should
be able to answer this question at several levels:
- How are IT services better for users and
- How has IT contributed to mission performance
and program outcomes, as documented in evaluations and Program
Assessment Rating Tool (PART) reviews?
- How is your management of IT investments saving
- What is your track record for budget control and
acquisition performance of IT?
- What benefits can you validate and document from
all of those Cost Benefit Analyses?
You need metrics and documentation for your
achievements. Hint: Don’t delay taking action to implement an
improved performance management system and record keeping. For the
transition briefing, you will want to document performance for at least
Fiscal Year 2008.
Get to closure on
a few stinking problems that are no fun to solve, but it is better
to solve as many of them as possible before the incoming
administration. Make a list of them, and then check off those that can
be resolved by November 30, 2008. Develop your Plan of Action and
Milestones (POAM), and make it happen.
Get your facts straight. Few things are more
embarrassing than telling a Presidential Transition Team, “I don’t
know.” Begin developing a briefing book with all of the key facts about
agency IT and investments: budget, programs, projects, infrastructure,
security, applications, users, status of plans, names of people
responsible, organization, strategy, management processes, etc.
Validate the accuracy of these facts, and have answers that are in
Know what needs to be
done over the upcoming several years. Make a list of the 10
most important “Must Do’s” over the next several years. Explain the
vision, rationale, cost, and action steps—briefly. If you can’t
communicate where you’re headed, the next administration may well think
that the IT organization needs a new management team.
Develop a communication
a well-prepared plan for communication and information exchange
with the Transition Team and the incoming Presidential Appointees. This
- Identifying information you need to share with
- Describing modes of presentation and who does
- Planning how your own staff will be well
informed and prepared to interact with the new leadership.
Take steps to make the
transition as smooth as possible. Continuity of
government requires transition planning. Your agency mission and
programs must continue seamlessly even as elected and appointive
You need a change
management plan. How will you manage during the months when there will
be unfilled vacancies in appointive positions? How will you be agile in
adjusting to an administration’s refocusing of the management styles
and priorities? How will you adapt your business processes to harmonize
with change? How will you articulate legislative requirements for your
mission and programs with a new administration?
As the Congressional Research Service observes
in a report for Congress, there is a long history of transitions:
Since President George Washington first
relinquished his office to incoming President John Adams in 1797, this
peaceful transition, symbolizing both continuity and change, has
demonstrated the stability of our system of government. Aside from the
symbolic transfer of power, an orderly transition from the outgoing
Administration to the incoming Administration is essential to ensure
continuity in the working affairs of government.
Congress addressed some of the key issues
through the The Presidential
Transition Act of 2000, which is
an update of previous legislation. As Dwight Ink, President Emeritus of
the Institute of Public Administration, wrote before passage of the
predecessor 1963 legislation, transitions were “hit-and-miss affairs
that handicap a new president and his team in shifting from campaigning
to governing, and create problems for the Congress.’’
REFERENCES FOR HOW THE PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION
Responsibilities of the
Outgoing Administration. The sitting President
is expected to issue an executive order facilitating the transition,
such as Executive Order 13176 issued on November 27,
2000 by William Clinton. That Executive Order
established a Presidential Transition Coordinating Council of incumbent
officials. The Council coordinates assistance to the President-elect in
fulfilling his/her responsibilities.
The Executive Order also defined specific roles,
- The Administrator of General Services, in
consultation with the Director of the Office of Presidential Personnel,
the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, and the Director of
the Office of Government Ethics, coordinates orientation activities for
key prospective Presidential appointees.
- The General Services Administrator, the
Archivist of the United States, and the Director of the Office of
Personnel Management—develop a transition directory and provide
information about government organization, authorities, functions,
duties, responsibilities, and mission.
- The White House Office of Presidential Personnel
catalogues all positions filled by presidential appointment that
require Senate confirmation.
Presidential Records. "Presidential
means 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. Chapter 22).
Specifically, the Presidential Records Act:
- Defines and states public ownership of the
- Places the responsibility for the custody and
management of incumbent Presidential records with the President.
- Allows the incumbent President to dispose of
records that no longer have administrative, historical, informational,
or evidentiary value, once he has obtained the views of the Archivist
of the United States on the proposed disposal.
- Requires that the President and his staff take
all practical steps to file personal records separately from
- Establishes a process for restriction and public
access to these records. Specifically, the PRA allows for public access
to Presidential records through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA)
beginning five years after the end of the Administration, but allows
the President to invoke as many as six specific restrictions to public
access for up to twelve years. The PRA also establishes procedures for
Congress, courts, and subsequent Administrations to obtain special
access to records that remain closed to the public, following a
thirty-day notice period to the former and current Presidents..
- Requires that Vice-Presidential records are to
be treated in the same way as Presidential records.
Ownership. The United States
shall reserve and retain complete ownership, possession, and control of
Presidential records; and such records shall be administered in
accordance with the provisions of this chapter (§ 2202 of above
Act Executive Order. George
Bush issued the current Executive Order regarding
Presidential Records on November 1, 2001.
General Services Administration
has significant responsibilities in supporting the Presidential
Personnel Management. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is
involved in the Presidential Transition.
Ethics. A key component of
transitions is ethics in government.
Homeland Security. DHS has issued a
contract for Presidential Transition Planning, according to Government Executive,
The P2C2 Group helps agencies and prime
contractors leverage IT and program investments to achieve business
results. Our services include planning, management consulting,
documentation, analysis, and evaluation. Key strengths include
conceptualizing, developing, synthesizing, writing, crunching numbers,
analyzing, supporting new initiatives, and assisting with change.
We are management consultants performing tasks
and projects with defined problems, scopes, deliverables, and
schedules. Firm-fixed price contracts are our preferred mode of
operation. We normally work in our own offices, although we go to
client sites for meetings, workshops, presentations, consultations, and
It’s always nice to hear from readers, clients
and potential clients, and friends. Drop me an e-mail sometime.
Together we can make a difference for government and the public.
I’m writing this article on Martin Luther King
Day, which elicits mixed emotions and memories. In 1963, I was a
graduate student working as faculty adviser to the daily student
newspaper in Bloomington, Indiana. On the summer day of the “I Have a
Dream Speech,” the teletype machines went nonstop with copy flowing
from AP and UPI lines, supplemented with a few photographs sent
laboriously from Washington over separate wires to a primitive rotary
Those were heady, jolting days of change, and
the current presidential campaign rhetoric seems to echo a theme of
Today's thoughts of change are counterbalanced
with more sober reflections. Change has a price. I still remember where
I was on April 4, 1968 when I heard the news that Martin paid the price
I hope the presidential campaign of 2008 debates
the options for change with great thought and care. Where we head as a
country in future years will come with a price, regardless of which
path we choose.
Jim Kendrick, PMP
4101 Denfeld Avenue
Kensington, MD 20895