The period from Election Day to Inauguration Day in America seems impossibly short. Newly elected U.S. presidents have less than eleven weeks to construct a new government composed of supporters and strangers, hailing from all parts of the nation. This unique and daunting process always involves at least some mistakes -in hiring, perhaps, or in policy priorities, or organizational design. Early blunders can carry serious consequences well into a president's term; minimizing them from the outset is critical. In What Do We Do Now? Stephen Hess draws from his long experience as a White House staffer and presidential adviser to show what can be done to make presidential transitions go smoothly.
Here is a workbook to guide future chief executives, decision by decision, through the minefield of transition. You'll have to start at the beginning, settling on a management style and knowing how to "arrange all the boxes." Something as seemingly mundane as parceling office space can be consequential -hence the inclusion of a proposed White House organizational chart and floor plans of the West Wing. What qualities are needed for each job, and where are the best candidates for those positions most likely to be found? How can you construct a cabinet that "looks like America"? What Do We Do Now? is your indispensable guide through the thicket of these decisions.
There are small decisions, too. You'll have to pick a desk -photos of the choices are included. Which presidential portraits should hang in the Oval Office? Which ones have previous presidents chosen? And when it comes time to write an inaugural address, what should be the content, theme, and tone? It's all here in the presidential transition workbook -don't leave for Washington without it.
This concise volume is sure to be a valuable resource for the president and team of advisers as they attempt to herd cats into an effective government. What do We Do Now? is alsis also a delightful read for anyone interested in exactly how one goes about being the president of the United States.
Stephen Hess is senior fellow emeritus in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., USA, and Distinguished Research Professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, USA. He has been engaged in presidential transitions since he was a young speechwriter in the Eisenhower White House. He returned to the White House with President Richard Nixon, helped Jimmy Carter reorganize the Executive Office and advised the presidential transition teams of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and GeorgeW. Bush. His numerous books include Through Their Eyes: Foreign Correspondents in the United States (Brookings, 2005) and Organizing the Presidency (Brookings, 3rd ed in 2002 with James Pfiffner).