Justice Department Presidential Transition Activities
by Jim Kouri
"Now that the elections are behind us, we begin a time of transition. During this time, it is important that all of us continue giving our best efforts to the American people and bringing the dedication and commitment to our jobs that we have brought to them from day one. It is also important that all of us do whatever we can to ensure a smooth transition to the next Administration." -- Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, Memo to Component Heads and U.S. Attorneys, Nov. 5, 2008
The Department of Justice's transition activities fully support the Executive Order on Presidential Transition signed by President Bush in order to provide the American people a safe and secure transition from a Bush Administration to an Obama Administration.
The Executive Order creates a Presidential Transition Coordinating Council, of which the Attorney General is a member. Attorney General Mukasey designated Brian Benczkowski, Chief of Staff, and Lee Lofthus, Assistant Attorney General for Administration, to lead the Department's transition activities. The Department's transition activities began last May.
Providing Unprecedented Security, Background Checks and Clearances
-- Under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Management Division's Security and Emergency Planning staff established a process to provide pre-election security clearances for key transition staff in both campaigns. This unprecedented action will ensure key transition staff can assume their new roles as soon as possible.
-- In addition to providing pre-election clearances, the Department is ready to work with the Office of the President-elect in providing security clearances for appointees and staff of the incoming administration.
-- The Department's Security and Emergency Planning staff helps provide 24-hour protection to the Presidential Transition Team headquarters.
Maintaining a Continuity of Operations Plan
-- The Department's continuity of operations plan (COOP) encompasses both political and career appointees to provide a seamless transition. The Department will continue to ensure that essential positions remain filled throughout the transition, including designations for the Department's key COOP positions.
Ensuring for a Smooth National Security Transition
-- Department national security and FBI personnel are working with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, CIA and other intelligence agencies to provide daily national security briefings to select transition personnel.
Identifying Career Officials to Lead Department
-- The Department has identified career officials to lead the Department of Justice components after Inauguration Day until the incoming Administration political appointees arrive.
Developing Valuable Resource Materials
-- The Department has developed transition briefing materials for incoming political appointees about the Department's organizational structure, the financial and budget structure, a human resources overview, and critical topics that the incoming administration will face in its first weeks.
-- The Department has prepared briefings on the special hiring and appointment authorities for excepted service attorney personnel. The Department is prepared to brief incoming political appointees from the new Administration as soon as practicable after appointment to ensure the continuity of operations and line of succession.
Keeping Department Personnel Apprised of Transition Activities
-- Senior Justice Management Division officials have been meeting monthly with all Department components to ensure each component is informed of the Department's transition activities.
Providing Office Space for Transition Team
-- The Department has allocated offices, equipment and conference room space for the transition team.
Providing Incoming Administration Transition Support
-- The Department will provide briefings to new political appointees on a variety of issues, including benefits, classified information handling, records management, ethics, government travel rules and contracting rules.
Providing Outgoing Political Appointee Support
-- The Department's transition efforts also include providing support for outgoing appointees. Briefings are held for appointees to inform them on a variety of information, including post-employment restrictions, ethics, records management and benefits. And, for the first time, the Department has created a Web site for outgoing political appointees providing them with online access to this information.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.