GSA’s Role In Presidential Transitions


The transition from one U.S. President to the next is a critical moment for our country. But behind the scenes of victory speeches is a vast bureaucracy that carries out the logistics of the transition.

Facilitating a smooth transfer of authority ensures that the Federal Government can continue to operate without any issues. This is an enormous responsibility that requires preparation years in advance.

The General Services Administration (GSA) has overseen this process since 1963 when the Presidential Transition Act was introduced. Over the past 60 years, the transition legislation has been revised to further ease the transfer of presidential power, and the GSA’s role has changed accordingly, to move with the times.

The bureaucratic process of presidential transition essentially begins with the GSA ascertainment (a letter signed by the head of GSA, affirming the President-Elect’s victory), which states the GSA’s readiness to make resources and services available to the new president.

In this article, we’ll look at the cooperation between the GSA, the president, and federal agencies, and the role the GSA plays to ensure that everything goes as seamlessly as possible.

What Are The Roles Of GSA?

During a presidential transition, GSA provides crucial support for the following:

  • President-elect
  • Vice-President-elect
  • Outgoing President
  • Outgoing Vice-President
  • Inter-agency transition
  • Presidential Inauguration

Support To Eligible Candidates

The GSA arranges the procurement of products, services, and facilities required by eligible candidates in preparation for their official duties. This mostly involves office space, furniture and furnishings, IT equipment, and office supplies.

Support The President-Elect And Vice-President-Elect

The GSA provides similar support when the President-elect and Vice-President-elect are preparing for office, following a change of Administration.

Working alongside the incoming president’s transition team, they provide well-equipped offices and IT systems; office staff; vehicles and parking; mail management; payment for procurement of experts and consultants; communication services; and outgoings, like travel and refreshments.

Support To The Outgoing President and Vice-President

In the event of Administration change, the GSA assists the outgoing President and Vice-President. This support includes communication systems; IT support; financial management; HR management; vehicles and parking; office space and equipment; and administrative support.

GSA also works with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to help the outgoing president organize their libraries.

Support For Inter-agency Transition

Inter-agency communications are one of the biggest challenges of the GSA presidential transition. A Federal Transition Coordinator is appointed to oversee the process and ensure that each federal agency is working in harmony throughout the transition.

The Agency Transition Directors Council (headed by the Federal Transition Coordinator) provides guidance for the gathering of briefing materials, intelligence sharing, and organization of emergency response exercises.

GSA Contractors And The Presidential Transition

The presidential transition is a vastly complex undertaking and all GSA businesses involved in the process play a vital role.

If you are interested in getting on GSA Schedule or require some assistance managing your existing contract, you may opt to get help from Price Reporter’s government contracting specialists. Visit our GSA website and contact us today for a free consultation.







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