Things are changing all over the federal government. From new executive orders to new agency leaders, it can be very easy to get a little lost during this period of transition. Fortunately, there are transition experts out there to explain what the changes are and how they can impact public servants.
In order to learn more about what’s happening in the Executive branch over the next few months, Christopher Dorobek sat down with one of these transition experts, David Eagles, who is Director of the Center for Presidential Transition at the Partnership for Public Service on this week’s DorobekINSIDER.
Eagles highlighted that there is a sense of urgency around getting top level, subcabinet and cabinet positions confirmed and situated. While Eagles and his team are encouraging the administration to move as quickly as possible, getting these positions in place will probably continue until late summer.
Despite the lag in getting appointees into office, non-Senate confirmed, day one positions are of the greatest size and scale that we have seen in a while. “There are nearly five to six hundred individuals that have arrived now at the federal agencies and they are beginning to make sense of their organizations and lay out and execute their 100 day plans,” Eagles said.
But this time around, agencies’ first 100 day plans are looking a little different than previous administrations. Eagles explained that while President Trump has announced a full cabinet, we are still some ways away from getting the cabinet confirmed and in place. And even once the cabinet is solidified, a lot of the individuals coming into top level positions, and the federal government in general, are not coming from a background of public service. As nominees start getting approved, this is a potential challenge that should be addressed in strategic plans moving forward.
However, just because the transition looks different this time around doesn’t mean that the challenges associated with change can’t be overcome. Eagles recommended that career employees be responsive to the new teams and help ease the challenges that come with a transition. “Leadership is coming in and they have spent several months focusing on what their agenda is going to be and now that you are seeing campaign promises being translated into actual orders, this is all part of the plan,” he explained. Whether or not you agree with the policy, it’s critical that those already in agencies help those coming in do so smoothly.
While career civil servants have a duty to help the new Administration get settled, the Administration also has a responsibility to start things off on the right foot. “A big part of a successful transition is ensuring that things are working well and that they stay working well,” Eagles explained. One way to do this is to build an effective relationship with the workforce. Doing so ensures that the Administration’s agenda is executed but it also works to keep the government running well.
“Incoming leadership should literally be in conference rooms working through their early agendas, working through their early decisions, talking about the key events over the next couple of months, talking about personnel, and which positions are important,” Eagles said. However, he also emphasized that a successful transition is a team effort between career civil servants and incoming employees. “The career workforce needs to be responsive and willing to do what it takes to get this done,” he said. ‘This is how you start off on the right foot in a new administration.”
Ultimately, Eagles is optimistic. “The early signs point to progress,” he said. “There are actually dedicated positions in the White House focusing on technology, focused innovations and strategic initiatives.” The next few months will determine how these plans get executed and how the transition rolls out.
For the most up to date information on the transition check out the Center for Presidential Transition here.