Traditionally, as soon as a new president is elected, the POTUS-to-be spends the almost three-month interregnum period before Inauguration Day putting together their administration: announcing policy proposals, nominating Cabinet members, and familiarizing themselves with classified government information. This transition period is governed by the Presidential Transition Act, which was established in 1963 to help incoming presidents properly prepare to hit the ground running on day one by providing funding, facilities, and access to government services in the weeks and months after Election Day.
Unfortunately for President-elect Joe Biden, however, 2020 has struck yet again. Biden and his team are currently unable to access these resources, since, in a nearly unprecedented move, per The New York Times, the Donald Trump-appointed General Services Administration official responsible for granting that access has refused to do so, citing the Trump administration's continued disputes over the validity of the election results.
Even without the $6.6 million in federal funding, government office space, and access to federal agencies that would come with the GSA official's letter of ascertainment naming him the next president, though, Biden and his transition team have already jumped into action.
"We have already started the transition; we are well under way," Biden said in a Nov. 10 press conference, adding that Trump and his allies' attempts to block the transition process "[do] not in any way change the dynamic of what we're able to do."
Here's everything we know so far about the Biden transition team.
Who is on Biden's presidential transition team?
Transition teams are typically led by the incoming president and vice president, a group of co-chairs, and a wide-ranging advisory board.
Joining Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as co-chairs of the team are Anita Dunn, senior adviser to Biden's campaign; New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham; former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman; Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, national co-chair of the Biden campaign; and Jeff Zients, former director of the White House National Economic Council under President Obama.
So far, Biden and Harris have named 16 prominent government and industry leaders to their advisory board. Among these are Pete Buttigieg; Cindy McCain; Dr. Vivek Murthy, former U.S. surgeon general; and Sally Yates, former deputy attorney general. See the full list on the official transition website here.
What has the Biden transition team done so far?
In their first few days as POTUS- and VPOTUS-elect, Biden and Harris have dived headfirst into the transition process. Their team immediately launched the transition website, which outlines the administration's initial priorities: COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change. They also moved quickly in assembling a COVID-19 task force, with 13 renowned doctors and scientists in charge of developing the administration's pandemic response plan.
Most recently, on Nov. 10, the transition team released a list of about 500 people representing a vast array of industries and government sectors to form agency review teams that will evaluate the work of the federal agencies in their areas of expertise to help prepare the Biden-Harris administration to begin working with each agency as soon as they are inaugurated. The transition team noted in its announcement of these ARTs that, even without direct access to the agencies they are evaluating, the teams will be able to commence their work immediately.
"The agency review teams will proceed by meeting with former agency officials and experts who closely follow federal agencies, and with officials from think tanks, labor groups, trade associations, and other NGOs," according to the announcement. "Once the GSA Administrator ascertains the results of the election, the ART members will work directly with staff in federal agencies to ensure that the incoming Biden-Harris administration is able to effectively achieve the policy goals of the President and Vice President-elect."
The ARTs span policy areas such as healthcare, the economy, national intelligence, education, and the arts, and their members were recruited from universities, state and local governments, and global corporations including Visa, Oatly, Airbnb, Lyft, and Disney, to name just a few. According to the transition team's announcement, these leaders represent one of the most diverse agency review groups in history, with women making up more than half and around 40 percent identifying as members of communities that have been historically underrepresented in the federal government.