GSA: Transition team offices are equipped and ready to go

The transition team for the president-elect could start work as early as the morning after the election in offices that the General Services Administration provides, a GSA official said.

No matter who wins the election, GSA has already furnished and equipped enough office space with computers, BlackBerrys and telephones for up to 500 people, said Tim Horne, presidential transition support team manager.

“It will be a fully functional office so that when they show up for work, they’re ready to go to work,” Horne told reporters at a briefing Nov. 3 at the Presidential Transition Center.

Under the Presidential Transition Act, the team can take over the office space as early as the morning after the election — if the election is not disputed, the GSA administrator decides it is appropriate and the designated representative of the president-elect has signed an agreement with GSA for the office space, he added.

GSA assists the new administration’s transition team and will work with the president-elect’s team and agencies to help ensure a smooth transition, said Gail Lovelace, GSA’s chief human capital officer and senior career executive for the presidential transition. She told a congressional hearing in September that the use of information technology would be a major component of the transition work.

For the transition team, GSA has allocated 120,000 square feet of office space on three floors plus a briefing room with a speaker’s stage and space for about 100 members of the media, Horne said. The building is in downtown Washington, and though its location is not classified, GSA is leaving it up to the president-elect’s team to publicize the address, he said. However, he added that it is not the location President Bush’s transition team used in 2000.

GSA has partnered with the Secret Service and the Federal Protective Service to provide security for the president-elect, vice president-elect and the transition center, Lovelace said. GSA has also worked with the Homeland Security Department and other national security agencies to ensure continuity of government operations and has identified alternate locations and workplace solutions for the transition team in the event of an emergency, she said.

“We recognize that a transition can be perceived as a time of vulnerability for our country,” Lovelace said.

The Government Accountability Office said it would help educate Congress and the new administration on the need to strengthen management and help agencies build capacity through improved employee skills and increased resources. GAO will also update its high-risk list of large IT projects so agencies can focus on their priorities, said Gene Dodaro, acting comptroller general, in a report released Nov. 3.

Among the major IT challenges, Dodaro said GAO would work with the new administration to:

* Strengthen information security controls to prevent, limit or detect unauthorized access to federal networks.
* Better manage IT investments to achieve benefits and control costs.
* Develop and implement well-defined modernization plans by using enterprise architecture.
*  Ensure that the government protects the privacy of the personal information it holds.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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