Presidential Transition Act: Provisions and Funding

Presidential Transition Act:
November 13, 2020
Provisions and Funding
Henry B. Hogue
The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 (PTA) authorizes funding for the General
Specialist in American
Services Administration (GSA) to provide suitable office space, staff compensation, and
National Government
other services associated with the presidential transition process (3 U.S.C. §102 note).

The act has since been amended in response to evolving understandings of the role of

the government in the transition process. From enactment of the PTA in 1964 through
the presidential transition of 2008-2009, most PTA-authorized support was provided after the election of the
incoming President and Vice President. In the years since, Congress has expanded support for the presidential
transition process to include authorization and funding for pre-election activities and support. Most recently, the
act was amended by the Presidential Transition Enhancement Act of 2019 (P.L. 116-121), enacted on March 3,
2020.
As amended, the PTA directs the President and the incumbent Administration to establish a specified transition-
related infrastructure, with some features ongoing and others active during a presidential election year only. It also
authorizes the provision by the incumbent Administration of certain pre-election transition support for eligible
candidates. In addition, the PTA authorizes eligible candidates to fund pre-election transition activities through
their campaigns. The statute also directs agencies to establish transition period succession plans for senior
political positions and to ensure career officials are prepared to lead federal agencies on an interim basis during
the transition process. It further provides for the negotiation, before the election, of memoranda of understanding
(MOU) between the incumbent President and eligible candidates that specify the terms of access by transition
staff to executive branch employees, facilities, and documents. These MOUs are to include an ethics plan, with
specified provisions, pertaining to the members of the transition team.
Once the President-elect and Vice President-elect have been ascertained by the GSA Administrator, the PTA
authorizes the Administrator to provide them with services and resources in addition to those that were provided
to them as candidates. GSA’s transition support is authorized to continue after the new President and Vice
President take office.
In general, presidential transition activities under the PTA are coordinated by GSA and the Office of Management
and Budget (OMB). To receive services and funds under the act, eligible candidates, Presidents-elect, and Vice
Presidents-elect are required to adhere to certain transition-related contribution limits and disclosure requirements.
Other provisions of the PTA provide for expedited security clearance processes for transition team members and
the incoming President’s top appointees.
The President’s FY2020 budget proposal for GSA included a request for $9.62 mil ion in funding for activities
authorized by the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010 in anticipation of the 2020-2021 presidential
transition. This request was endorsed by Congress and included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020
(P.L. 116-93), which was enacted on December 20, 2019. The President’s FY2021 budget proposal for GSA
included a request for $9.9 mil ion for PTA-related activities. This request was endorsed by Congress and
included in the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act (P.L. 116-158). Transition-related
funds also were appropriated to the White House Office of Administration ($8 mil ion) and the National Archives
and Records Administration ($18 mil ion) for presidential transition-related activities.
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Contents
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 1
Transition Support: Services, Facilities, and Funds ............................................................... 2
Pre-election Services and Activities .............................................................................. 2
Transition-Related Infrastructure ............................................................................ 3
Pre-election Direct Transition Support ..................................................................... 4
Funding of Pre-election Transition Activities by Campaigns........................................ 5
Transition Leadership ........................................................................................... 6
Memoranda of Understanding on Transition ............................................................. 6
Post-election Support ................................................................................................. 6
Funding Authorization................................................................................................ 8
Funding for 2020-2021.......................................................................................... 9
Other Provisions ............................................................................................................. 9
Ascertaining the “Apparent Successful Candidates” ........................................................ 9
Inter-term Transition for an Incumbent President .......................................................... 10
Outgoing Administration .......................................................................................... 10

Transition-Related Security Clearances ....................................................................... 10
Disclosure Requirements .......................................................................................... 11

Contacts
Author Information ....................................................................................................... 12

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Presidential Transition Act: Provisions and Funding

Introduction
The constitutional transfer of power and authority from an incumbent American President to a
successor is a momentous occasion in American government. In the present day, this transfer of
authority is a complex and multifaceted undertaking, as the outgoing Administration concludes its
affairs and the incoming Administration prepares to govern. This report discusses the provisions
and funding of the statute that governs this process: the Presidential Transition Act (PTA) of
1963, as amended.1
In recent decades, presidential transition activities often have begun informal y months before the
general election; the major candidates usual y have asked individuals or smal groups to begin to
formulate transition plans in the event of an electoral victory. Preparations general y have
accelerated after the election, as the attention of the President-elect and his supporters has turned
from campaigning to governing. The President-elect and his team have approximately 11 weeks
between Election Day and Inauguration Day to organize the new Administration and to make
plans for pursuing its policy agenda.2 The incoming President also must prepare to assume
national security and homeland security responsibilities from the incumbent—among a host of
other duties and expectations.
While a formal transition process is essential to ensure continuity in the conduct of the executive
branch’s affairs, the concept of a federal y funded, institutionalized transition process is relatively
new. Before enactment of the PTA in 1964,3 the methods for transferring information and
responsibility between Administrations were developed in an ad hoc fashion. In addition, the
political party organization of the incoming President was the primary source of funding for
transition expenses.4 Many facets of presidential transitions continued to be developed anew,
according to the preferences and priorities of each outgoing and, in particular, each incoming
President. Now, however, the PTA provides a basic framework for funding and support of this
process.
From enactment of the PTA in 1964 through the presidential transition of 2008-2009, most PTA-
authorized support was provided after the election of the incoming President and Vice President.
In the years since, Congress has expanded support for the presidential transition process to
include authorization and funding for pre-election activities and support:
 The Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010 amended the PTA and
included several other provisions to provide additional support to eligible
candidates for pre-election transition planning.5
 The Edward “Ted” Kaufman and Michael Leavitt Presidential Transitions
Improvements Act of 2015 (PTIA)—enacted on March 18, 2016—incorporated

1 3 U.S.C. §102 note.
2 T he Election Day for President falls on the first T uesday following the first Monday of November of every fourth
year (3 U.S.C. §1), and Inauguration Day falls on January 20 of the year that follows (U.S. Constitution, 20 th
Amendment).
3 T his statute was enacted March 7, 1964, but it retained the title Presidential T ransition Act of 1963. For a detailed
discussion of presidential transitions preceding this act, see Laurin L. Henry, Presidential Transitions (Washington:
Brookings Institution, 1960).
4 U.S. President’s Commission on Campaign Costs, Financing Presidential Campaigns, April 1962, pp. 23-24.
5 P.L. 111-283; 124 Stat. 3045.
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Presidential Transition Act: Provisions and Funding

some provisions of the 2010 law, with modifications, into the PTA.6 PTIA further
amended the PTA with provisions for pre-election transition support for
presidential candidates.
 The Presidential Transition Enhancement Act of 2019, enacted on March 3, 2020,
amended the PTA to require the General Services Administration (GSA) to
establish, by September 1 of a presidential election year, a memorandum of
understanding (MOU) regarding facilities and services to be provided by GSA
and an ethics plan to guide the conduct of those involved in the transition.7 An
additional amendment mandated the development of agency succession plans for
potential leadership vacancies during the transition. The act also amended the
PTA to extend GSA transition support to the new President and Vice President
following inauguration.
Transition Support: Services, Facilities, and Funds
Pre-election Services and Activities
The PTA, as amended, includes a number of provisions related to the pre-election portion of the
presidential transition. It directs the President and the incumbent Administration to establish a
specified transition-related organizational infrastructure, with some features ongoing and others
operational during a presidential election year only. The PTA also authorizes the incumbent
Administration to provide certain pre-election transition support for eligible candidates (as
defined below). In addition, the PTA authorizes eligible candidates to fund pre-election transition
activities through their campaigns. The statute also requires each agency head to establish, by
September 15 of a presidential election year, a succession plan for each political position in the
agency. It further provides for the negotiation, before the election, of memoranda of
understanding between the incumbent President and eligible candidates concerning post-election
transition matters.
For purposes of the act, eligible candidate is defined as “a candidate of a major party [as defined
in 26 U.S.C. §9002(6)] for President or Vice-President of the United States; and ... any other
candidate who has been determined by the [GSA] Administrator to be among the principal
contenders for the general election to such offices.”8
In general, pre-election transition support is to be provided equal y to eligible candidates, without
regard to political affiliation.9

6 P.L. 114-136; 130 Stat. 301.
7 P.L. 116-121; 134 Stat. 138.
8 3 U.S.C. §102 note; Presidential T ransition Act of 1963 [hereinafter cited as PT A], §3(h)(4). The U.S. Code section
cited, 26 U.S.C. §9002(6), states: “ The term ‘major party’ means, with respect to any presidential election, a political
party whose candidate for the office of President in the preceding presidential election received, as the candidate of
such party, 25 percent or more of the total number of popular votes received by all candidates for such office. ” T his
section of the PT A also provides further guidance to the Administr ator of General Services (Administrator) about how
he or she would identify such an “other candidate ... among the principal contenders.”
9 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §4(h).
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Transition-Related Infrastructure
The PTA directs the President, in general, to “take such actions as the President determines
necessary and appropriate to plan and coordinate activities by the Executive branch ... to facilitate
an efficient transfer of power.”10 More specifical y, the law directs the President to establish and
operate, as specified, a White House Transition Coordinating Council and an Agency Transition
Directors Council (described in detail below).
The statute directs the Administrator of General Services (Administrator) to designate a senior
career GSA official to be the Federal Transition Coordinator (the Coordinator). The Coordinator
is to carry out transition-related functions assigned to GSA, coordinate transition planning across
federal agencies, ensure agency compliance with transition-related planning and reporting
requirements, and act as liaison to eligible candidates.11
The President is to establish the White House Transition Coordinating Council no later than early
May of the presidential election year. This council is tasked with providing guidance to federal
agencies and the Coordinator on transition preparations, facilitating communication between
eligible candidates’ representatives and senior officials in the agencies and in the Executive
Office of the President (EOP), and preparing and hosting interagency emergency preparedness
and response exercises. The members of this council are to include senior executive branch
officials, the Coordinator, eligible candidates’ representatives (in an advisory capacity), and
others, as the President deems appropriate.12 The chairperson of this council is to be a senior EOP
official designated by the President.
The Agency Transition Directors Council established by the President is required to meet not less
than once per year but “on a regular basis as necessary” beginning in early May of a presidential
election year. The PTA tasks this council with a number of duties, including assisting the
Coordinator, facilitating the assembly of transition-related briefing materials, and ensuring
preparation of career officials to lead federal agencies on an interim basis during the transition.
The Coordinator and the Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and
Budget (OMB) are to serve as co-chairpersons of the council. Other members include senior EOP
officials, senior career officials as representatives of specified federal agencies, and—during a
presidential election year—eligible candidates’ representatives.13
The PTA also directs the Administrator to prepare a report not later than a year before a
presidential election summarizing modern presidential transition activities. This report is to
include a bibliography of transition-related resources. It is to be released to the public, general y,
as wel as to eligible candidates, specifical y.14
The incumbent President, acting through the Coordinator, is required to report to Congress on
pre-election presidential transition preparations twice: once at six months and again at three
months before the election.15

10 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §4(b).
11 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §4(c).
12 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §4(d).
13 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §4(e). T he eligible candidates’ representatives are to serve in an advisory capacity.
14 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(h)(1)(C). T he Administrator is required to release this report to eligible candidates
toget her with a notice regarding available services and facilities. In general, this notice is to be provided within three
business days of the last nominating convention. 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(h)(1)(B). The Administrator is to make
the report generally available to the public “ promptly.”
15 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §4(i).
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Presidential Transition Act: Provisions and Funding

Pre-election Direct Transition Support
The PTA, as amended, authorizes the incumbent Administration to provide certain pre-election
transition support to eligible candidates.
The Administrator is directed to enter into an MOU with each eligible candidate specifying the
terms and conditions for the provision of administrative services and facilities. This MOU is to be
completed by September 1 of a presidential election year. Where possible, the MOU is to be
based on similar MOUs from prior transitions. The MOU is to designate a transition
representative of the candidate, but a later change in this designation by the candidate does not
necessitate a new MOU.16 Amendments to the MOU are to be agreed to in writing, and deviations
from the MOU are to be preceded by written notice.
The statute provides for consultation between the Administrator and “any President-elect, Vice
President-elect, or eligible candidate ... to develop a systems architecture plan for the computer
and communications systems of the candidate,” including human resource management system
software compatible with that of the incumbent and likely to be used by the President-elect and
Vice President-elect.17 The aim of this consultation is “to coordinate a transition to Federal
systems if the candidate is elected.”
Other services and facilities authorized for eligible candidates include office space, appropriate
furnishings, office equipment, communications services, and printing and binding.18 The
Administrator is required to notify eligible candidates of the availability of these resources.19
Where services and facilities are provided to an eligible candidate, certain conditions apply. The
Administrator shal (1) determine the location of any office space, (2) ensure the security of
information technology or communications services, and (3) offer information and other
assistance equal y to al eligible candidates. Candidates may use these resources only to prepare
for a potential transition.20 A candidate is entitled to these services and facilities up to the date the
“apparent successful candidates for the office of President and Vice President” have been
determined.21 (See “Ascertaining the ‘Apparent Successful Candidates,’” below, for a discussion
of this determination process.)
The PTA also requires the Administrator to notify eligible candidates of certain services made
available under the Intel igence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.22 The 2004 act
directs the Office of Personnel Management to provide a list of presidential y appointed positions
to each major party candidate not later than 15 days after his or her nomination. The same list is
to go to other eligible candidates thereafter.23 A second provision of the 2004 act pertains to
expedited security clearances for transition team members.24

16 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(i). T he service of this representative terminates no later than September 30 of the
following year, but it may be ended earlier.
17 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a)(10).
18 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(h)(2).
19 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(h)(1). In general, this notice is to be provided within three business days of the last
nominating convention.
20 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §§3(h)(2)(A), 3(h)(2)(C).
21 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(h)(2)(D).
22 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(h)(1)(A).
23 5 U.S.C. §1101 note.
24 T his provision, which was amended by the Pre-Election Presidential T ransition Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-283; 124 Stat.
3046), allows each eligible candidate to submit, before the general election, security clearance requests for “ prospective
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Presidential Transition Act: Provisions and Funding

In addition, the PTA authorizes the Administrator to fund, during the transition, orientation
activities, primarily for “individuals the President-elect or eligible candidate ... for President
intends to nominate as department heads or appoint to key positions in the Executive Office of the
President or executive agencies.”25 The purpose of these activities is to acquaint the incoming
leadership “with the types of problems and chal enges that most typical y confront new political
appointees when they make the transition from campaign and other prior activities to assuming
the responsibility for governance.”26 Personnel who may assist in the transition process include
individuals who “(I) held similar leadership roles in prior administrations; (II) are department or
agency experts from the Office of Management and Budget or an Office of Inspector General of a
department or agency; or (III) are relevant staff from the” Government Accountability Office.27
The orientation activities specified in the statute include “training or orientation in records
management ... including training on the separation of Presidential records and personal records,”
as wel as “training or orientation in human resources management and performance-based
management.”28
The PTA directs the Administrator to work with the Archivist of the United States to create, in
support of the orientation activities, a transition directory compiling “Federal publications and
materials with supplementary materials developed by the Administrator.” The directory is to
include “information on the officers, organization, and statutory and administrative authorities,
functions, duties, responsibilities, and mission of each department and agency.”29
Funding of Pre-election Transition Activities by Campaigns
The PTA enables eligible presidential candidates to fund pre-election transition activities through
their campaigns.30 As described in the Senate report on the amendment that established this
provision,
In order to supplement the services and access to facilities provided by the Administrator,
an eligible candidate may, under the provisions of this subsection, establish a separate
fund—qualifying for the purposes of section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of
1986—to pay for transition s ervices and facilities. An eligible candidate may transfer into
this fund contributions received for his or her general election campaign and may also
solicit and accept donations directly into it.31
The statute places limits on donations as a condition for receiving services and funds under the
act. Under these limitations, the eligible candidate “shal not accept more than $5,000 from any

transition team members who will have a need for access to classified information” in the course of their work . T he law
directs that resulting investigations and eligibility determinations be completed, as much as possible, by the day after
the general election (50 U.S.C. §3342).
25 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a)(8)(B).
26 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a)(8)(A)(i).
27 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a)(8)(A)(ii).
28 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a)(8)(A)(ii).
29 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a)(9).
30 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(h)(3).
31 S.Rept. 111-239, p. 7. T he entities identified in section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code include those
typically referred to as social welfare organizations. For more, see CRS Report 96-264, Frequently Asked Questions
About Tax-Exem pt Organizations
, by Erika K. Lunder.
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person, organization, or other entity for the purposes of carrying out activities authorized by” the
PTA.32
Transition Leadership
The PTA requires that agency heads designate, by early May of a presidential election year, senior
career officials to oversee transition-related activities. Such a designation is to be made for the
agency and each of its major components and subcomponents.33
The PTA also provides for interim leadership of agencies during the transition. It directs agency
heads to provide for a succession plan for each senior political position in the agency, by
September 15 of a presidential election year.34 In the case of advice and consent positions, such
designations are to be consistent with the Vacancies Reform Act of 1998.35
Memoranda of Understanding on Transition
The PTA directs the President, acting through the Coordinator, to negotiate an MOU with each
eligible candidate’s representative prior to October 1 of a presidential election year. The MOU is
to address “at a minimum, the conditions of access to employees, facilities, and documents of
agencies by transition staff.” As much as possible, these MOUs are to be based on MOUs from
previous presidential transitions.36 These MOUs are to be posted on the GSA website upon
completion or by October 1, whichever is earlier.
These MOUs are to include an ethics plan pertaining to the members of the transition team.37 This
plan is to include ethics requirements that apply general y as wel as those that apply specifical y
to those who might have access to nonpublic or classified information. The PTA specifies relevant
considerations that are to be addressed by the plan, including the roles of lobbyists and foreign
agents and the means of identifying and addressing conflicts of interest. It requires that the plan
also include a code of ethical conduct, to be signed by each transition team member, that spel s
out ethics requirements and the steps that members must take to meet them.
Post-election Support
Once the President-elect and Vice President-elect have been ascertained by the Administrator,38
the PTA authorizes the Administrator to provide them with certain facilities, funds, and services
to prepare for future duties, including those that were available to them as candidates and
additional resources:

32 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §6(c). PTA §3(h)(3)(B)(iii) applies §6(c) to funds collected during campaigns.
33 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §4(f)(1).
34 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §4(f)(2).
35 Advice and consent positions are those filled through appointment by the President, with the advice and consent of
the Senate. For more on the Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, see CRS Report R44997, The Vacancies Act: A Legal
Overview
, by Valerie C. Brannon.
36 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §4(g). For examples of such memoranda of understanding, see “ Memorandum of
Understanding Between the Obama-Biden T ransition Project and the General Services Administration ,” at
https://presidentialtransition.org/publications/memorandum-of-understanding-between-the-obama-biden-transition-
project -and-the-general-services-administration/, and “ Memorandum of Understanding between the General Services
Administration and the Romney Readiness Project ,” at https://presidentialtransition.org/publications/memorandum-of-
understanding-between-the-general-services-administration-and-the-romney-readiness-project/.
37 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §4(g)(3).
38 See “Ascertaining the ‘Apparent Successful Candidates.’”
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link to page 7 Presidential Transition Act: Provisions and Funding

 suitable office space appropriately equipped with furniture, furnishings, office
machines and equipment, and office supplies;
 payment of the compensation of members of office staffs designated by the
President-elect or Vice President-elect;
 payment of expenses for the procurement of services of experts or consultants or
organizations thereof for the President-elect or Vice President-elect;
 payment of travel expenses and subsistence al owances, including rental of
government or hired motor vehicles;
 government aircraft for transition purposes on a reimbursable basis, when
requested by [one of the incoming officers or a designee] and approved by the
President;
 aircraft chartered for transition purposes, when requested by [one of the incoming
officers or a designee];
 communications services; and
 payment of expenses for printing and binding.39
In addition, the PTA authorizes funding for the use of the U.S. Postal Service by the President-
elect and Vice President-elect “in connection with [their] preparations for the assumption of
official duties.”40
As discussed in greater detail above (“Pre-election Direct Transition Support”), the PTA also
authorizes the Administrator to fund incoming leadership orientation activities for the intended
nominees of the President-elect during the transition. The purpose of these activities is to acquaint
members of the new Administration with governance issues they are likely to face as they take
office. The statute specifies the personnel who may assist in the transition process,41 and it also
identifies orientation activities that may be included.42
The statute also provides that these orientation activities “shal include the preparation of a
detailed classified, compartmented summary .. of specific operational threats to national security;
major military or covert operations; and pending decisions on possible uses of military force.”43
This summary is to be conveyed to the President-elect as soon as possible after the general
election.44

39 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a). Some of these resources would have been authorized to be provided while the
President -elect was an eligible candidate, as well. See “ Pre-Election Direct T ransition Support ,” above.
40 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §§3(a)(7) and 3(d).
41 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a)(8). Personnel who may assist in the transition process include individuals who “(I)
held similar leadership roles in prior administrations; (II) are department or agency experts from the Office of
Management and Budget or an Office of Inspector General of a department or agency; or (III) are relevant st aff from
the” Government Accountability Office.
42 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a)(8). The orientation activities specified in the statute include “training or orientation
in records management ... including training on the separation of Presidential records and personal records,” as well as
“training or orientation in human resources management and performance-based management.” As noted above, the
PT A directs the Administrator and the Archivist to create a related transition directory ( 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A,
§3(a)(9)). See “ Pre-Election Direct T ransition Support.”
43 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a)(8)(A)(v).
44 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a)(8)(A)(v).
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As noted above (“Pre-Election Direct Transition Support”), the PTA provides for consultation
between the Administrator and
any President-elect, Vice President-elect, or eligible candidate ... to develop a systems
architecture plan for the computer and communications systems of the candidate to
coordinate a transition to Federal systems if the candidate is elected including ... human
resource management system software
compatible with that of the incumbent and likely to be used by the President-elect and Vice
President-elect.45
Funding Authorization
Since the PTA was passed in 1964, the funding authorized for its implementation has grown. As
original y enacted, the PTA authorized funding not to exceed $900,000 for any one transition “for
carrying out the purposes” of the act.46 In 1976, this provision was amended to authorize “not
more than $2,000,000 ... for the purposes of providing services and facilities to the President-elect
and Vice President-elect” and “not more than $1,000,000 .. for the purposes of providing services
and facilities to the former President and former Vice President.”47 In 1988, this provision was
amended once again and the authorized amounts were increased to $3.5 mil ion and $1.5 mil ion,
respectively.48 The 1988 amendments also directed that the “amounts authorized to be
appropriated [by these provisions] be increased by an inflation adjusted amount, based on
increases in the cost of transition services and expenses which have occurred in the years
following the most recent Presidential transition.”49
Section 4 of the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010 authorizes “such sums as may be
necessary to carry out the provisions” of that act.50
A general provision of the PTA authorizes the Administrator to spend PTA-authorized funds for
the provision of most of the specified “services and facilities ... in connection with ... obligations
incurred by the President-elect or Vice-President-elect” between the day following the general
election and 180 days after the inauguration.51 As discussed above, a number of exceptions to this
general provision authorize expenditures for specified pre-election transition-related services and
facilities for “eligible candidates.”
The President-elect, Vice President-elect, or eligible candidate may designate an assistant to act
on his or her behalf in connection with the support provided by the Administrator under the PTA.
Up to 10% of the expenditures under the PTA may be made upon certification by the President-
elect, Vice President-elect, or the designated assistant “that such expenditures are classified and
are essential to the national security” and are consistent with PTA provisions.52

45 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a)(10).
46 P.L. 88-277, §5; 78 Stat. 153, 156.
47 P.L. 94-499, §a; 90 Stat. 2380.
48 P.L. 100-398, §2; 102 Stat. 985.
49 P.L. 100-398, §2; 102 Stat. 985.
50 P.L. 111-283, §4; 124 Stat. 3049.
51 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(b).
52 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(e).
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Funding for 2020-2021
The President’s FY2020 budget proposal for GSA included a request for $9.62 mil ion in funding
for activities authorized by the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010 in anticipation of
the 2020-2021 presidential transition.53 This request was endorsed by Congress and included in
the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, which was enacted on December 20, 2019.54
The President’s FY2021 budget proposal for GSA included a request for $9.9 mil ion for PTA-
related activities.55 This request was endorsed by Congress and included in the Continuing
Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act.56 Transition-related funds also were
appropriated to the White House Office of Administration ($8 mil ion) and the National Archives
and Records Administration ($18 mil ion) for presidential transition-related activities.57
Other Provisions
Ascertaining the “Apparent Successful Candidates”
For the purposes of the PTA, the President-elect and Vice-President-elect are defined as “the
apparent successful candidates for the office of President and Vice President, respectively, as
ascertained by the [GSA] Administrator following the general elections.”58 In the immediate
aftermath of the contested November 7, 2000, presidential election, neither major candidate
(George W. Bush or Al Gore) was provided with the resources that would be available for the
President-elect and Vice President-elect. In testimony before the House Committee on
Government Reform, Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology,
Administrator David J. Barram testified, “In this unprecedented, incredibly close and intensely
contested election, with legal action being pursued by both sides, it is not apparent to me who the
winner is. That is why I have not ascertained a President-elect.”59 In his testimony, the
Administrator drew on a 1963 House floor debate concerning the PTA, during which a sponsor of
the legislation stated that, “in a close contest, the Administrator simply would not make the
decision.”60 The GSA Deputy Administrator reportedly provided PTA facilities and funds to the
Bush-Cheney transition team on December 14, 2000, the day following Vice President Gore’s
concession speech.61

53 U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2020—Appendix (Washington:
GPO, 2019), p. 1082.
54 P.L. 116-93; 133 Stat. 2317, at 2467.
55 U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2021—Appendix (Washington:
GPO, 2020), pp. 1162-1163.
56 P.L. 116-159, Division A, §134.
57 P.L. 116-159, Division A, §§136 and 137.
58 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(c).
59 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on Government Management, Information,
and T echnology, Transitioning to a New Adm inistration: Can the Next President Be Ready? , hearings, 106th Cong., 2nd
sess., December 4, 2000 (Washington: GPO, 2001), p. 69.
60 Rep. Dante Fascell, “Presidential T ransition Act of 1963,” remarks in the House, Congressional Record, vol. 109,
July 25, 1963, p. 13348.
61 Ben White, “White House T ransition; T ransition Officials Moving to D.C. Office; T eam Gets $5. 3 Million to Ready
Administration,” Washington Post, December 15, 2000, p. A39.
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At that time, the provisions of the PTA were limited to support of the President-elect, Vice
President-elect, former Presidents, and former Vice Presidents. For the most part, the statute did
not provide a formal role for, or support for, major presidential candidates in the pre-election
transition planning process. As discussed above, the PTA has been amended several times since
2000, broadening the statutory conception of the transition period to include major candidate
contingency planning. Because the PTA now directs GSA to provide certain resources to these
candidates before the election, these resources could continue to sustain the transition planning,
should the successful candidate not be apparent on Election Day.
Inter-term Transition for an Incumbent President
In the event “the President-elect is the incumbent President or in the case where the Vice-
President-elect is the incumbent Vice President,” the PTA prohibits the expenditure of funds for
the provision to such incumbent of most services and facilities specified under the act. Any funds
appropriated for what turn out to be unneeded purposes are to be returned to the general funds of
the Treasury.62 An exception to this general prohibition was added by PTIA, however. Under such
circumstances, certain activities related to training and orientations of “key prospective
Presidential appointees” are authorized to be funded.63
Outgoing Administration
The Administrator is also authorized, under the PTA, to provide services and facilities to each
outgoing President and Vice President, “for use in connection with winding up the affairs of his
office,” for a period “not to exceed seven months from 30 days before the date of the expiration
of his term of office.”64 In the event that the outgoing Vice President is becoming President, the
PTA limits the authorized expenditures in this area.65
Transition-Related Security Clearances
Appointees:
The PTA recommends the President-elect submit the “names of candidates for high
level national security positions through the level of undersecretary of cabinet departments” to the
agency with national security clearance functions. It further recommends that this action be taken
as soon as possible after the presidential election, and it requires the responsible agency or
agencies to carry out background investigations of these candidates for high-level national
security positions “as expeditiously as possible ... before the date of the inauguration.”66

62 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(g).
63 T hese activities are provided for in 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(a)(8)(A).
64 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §5. Other provisions of law provide each former President with an annual lifetime pension,
Secret Service protection, and staff and office allowances after the transition period expires. See CRS Report RL34631,
Form er Presidents: Pensions, Office Allowances, and Other Federal Benefits, by Wendy Ginsberg. Other CRS reports
related to departing Presidents include CRS Report R40238, The Presidential Records Act: Background and Recent
Issues for Congress
, by Meghan M. Stuessy; and CRS Report R41513, The Presidential Libraries Act and the
Establishm ent of Presidential Libraries
, by Wendy Ginsberg, Erika K. Lunder, and Daniel J. Richardson .
65 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §7(a)(2). The provision stipulates that “ not more than $1,500,000 may be appropriated for
the purposes of providing services and facilities to the former President and former Vice President ..., except that any
amount appropriated ... in excess of $1,250,000 shall be returned to the general fund of the T reasury in the case where
the former Vice President is the incumbent President.”
66 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §3(f).
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Transition team members: A separate transition-related provision of law that is not included in
the PTA is worth noting here. The Intel igence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004
includes a provision that facilitates pre-election security clearances for transition team members.67
This provision, which was amended by the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010,68
al ows each eligible candidate to submit, before the general election, security clearance requests
for “prospective transition team members who wil have a need for access to classified
information” in the course of their work. The law directs that resulting investigations and
eligibility determinations “to permit appropriate prospective transition team members to have
access to classified information shal be completed, to the fullest extent practicable, by the day
after the date of the general election.”69
Disclosure Requirements
The PTA requires the President-elect and Vice President-elect to disclose certain financial and
personnel information as a condition for receiving services and funds under the act. They must
disclose to the Administrator “the date of contribution, source, amount, and expenditure thereof”
of al nonfederal funds (such as private contributions) received before or after the general
election, “for use in the preparation of the President-elect or Vice-President-elect for the
assumption of [their] official duties.”70 They must submit a report with such disclosures to the
Administrator not later than 30 days after inauguration; these disclosures are then to be released
to the public by the Administrator. In addition, the PTA requires, as a condition for receiving
services and funds, that the President-elect and Vice-President-elect “make available to the
Administrator and the Comptroller General al information concerning such contributions” as
may be required for “auditing both the public and private funding” used in PTA-authorized
activities.
As noted, the PTA also sets limitsations on transition-related donations as a condition for
receiving services and funds under the act. Under these limitations, the President-elect and Vice
President-elect “shal not accept more than $5,000 from any person, organization, or other entity
for the purposes of carrying out activities authorized by” the PTA.71 The PTA also requires that
the incoming team disclose to the public (1) “the names and most recent employment of al
transition personnel ... who are members of the President-elect or Vice-President-elect’s Federal
department or agency transition teams”; and (2) “information regarding the sources of funding
which support the transition activities of each transition team member.” These disclosures, which
must be kept up to date, are to be completed before the team contacts applicable departments or
agencies.72

67 P.L. 108-458; 118 Stat. 3638.
68 P.L. 111-283; 124 Stat. 3046.
69 50 U.S.C. §3342.
70 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §6(a).
71 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §6(c).
72 3 U.S.C. §102 note; PT A, §6(b).
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Author Information

Henry B. Hogue

Specialist in American National Government



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