Executive Transition Projects


Sometimes the most potent advocacy tool is a well formed list.  This is what makes Sunlight’s Insanely Useful Websites so popular, in addition to being so, well, useful).

I’ve been tracking and sorting several fields of work relevant to transparency and civic information, and would like to share these lists, with the hope that similar efforts can benefit from each other.

I’d like to start with a list of executive transition projects.  While any whitepaper or policy proposal could, in some sense, count as an executive transition project, there are a number of projects preparing proposals and principles for the next administration that focus on process and public involvement, engaging in the operations and management of government, and have implications for the potential roles an engaged public might play in a newly organized executive.

The model for modern executive transition work is the Heritage Foundation’s “Mandate for Leadership“, written for an incoming Reagan administration in 1980.  The proliferation of public interest organizations and the expansion of government management professionals has led to an expanding variety of focused executive transition projects.  While proposals aimed at the administrations-to-be have become somewhat commonplace, they still operate largely in solitude, devoid of a larger context that might connect their similarities, build consensus, and draw on shared expertise.

The following collection of transition projects reflects my involvement in several of them, my tracking of their work, and suggestions brought up at a recent conference hosted by Demos and AmericaSpeaks.  I’m particularly interested in any similar projects I’m missing, or in highlighting the work that more formally addresses process oriented agenda setting for the next administration.  The list starts with projects with more formal agendas, and then lists organizations with a strong focus on process issues.

  • OMBWatch is organizing a 21st Century Right to Know project, preparing recommendations for a transparent executive branch.  (pdf)
  • The Personal Democracy Forum prepared the book “Rebooting America” in conjunction with their latest conference, collecting essays reimagining the executive in the face radically transformative technology.
  • The Center for American Progress has held numerous transition-oriented events.
  • The American Enterprise Institute had a Transition to Governing Project from 1999 to 2001, I don’t know if it was replaced.
  • The Heritage Foundation publishes ongoing issue briefs (not sure if there’s formal agenda setting in the works).
  • The Center for Democracy and Technology has published detailed recommendations, subject to commentary on their Web site.
  • Carnegie and Time are cosponsoring a forum on public service on September 11th and 12th.
  • The National Academy of Public Administration provides ongoing support and recommendations for improving government, with a focus on collaboration and management.
  • The Transitions in Governance Coalition brings together academic, industry, and non-profit partners to prepare transition recommendations.
  • Openthegovernment.org has prepared and testified on numerous executive reform topics (through Patrice McDermott’s work), and McDermott’s Who Needs to Know could (should) be seen as an executive openness agenda.
  • The IBM Center for the Business of Government hosts a 2008 Presidential Transition Initiative blog, written by John Kamensky, who has extensive experience with government management and executive transition issues.
  • The November 5th Coalition focuses on deliberation and public involvement.
  • The Center for Government and Technology has prepared several issue briefs and has strong connections with existing government officials in the e-government and government management spaces.
  • The Next Agenda was prepared as a progressive agenda by the Campaign for America’s Future.  (I’m unsure if there’s a similar current effort.)
  • Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions has a strong focus on governance issues.
  • In a sense, the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society could be seen as complementary ongoing transition projects.
  • Carl Malamud’s IGOTF work has agenda setting relevance, establishing best-practices from established communities working around public access issues, with the open government data principles being most notable among them.
  • A brief listing of transition and agenda setting bodies within government:  the GAO produces lists of at-risk government projects, GSA has recently published new data publication guidelines, the Council of CIOs works with all agency CIOs, and OMB sets government management policy.  The two most relevant congressional committees are the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
  • The parties and campaigns also publish policy proposals and platforms, though I’m not researching them here.