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Past Event

Presidential transition process: Understanding the obligations, obstacles, and urgency

Past Event

After Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, President Trump attempted to overturn the election results and thwart Biden’s official transition process by setting off a series of legal challenges in battleground states. Weeks after Biden’s victory was called, the Trump administration is now cooperating. But the delays have significantly cut into what is traditionally an intense 11-week process.

The transition between presidential administrations is a vital and decisive time. Transitions are important not only because they identify the new leadership of presidential appointees, but also because they carry out basic staff work for the first several months of the new administration. To accomplish the latter, it is necessary that the president-elect’s transition team has access to information on and from federal agencies. With the inauguration more than a month away, how will Biden’s team operate to make up for lost time? What measures will his team need to take to ensure the country is properly governed amidst two devastating health and economic crises?

On December 14, Governance Studies at Brookings hosted a webinar examining presidential transitions and the obstacles President-elect Joe Biden’s team currently faces. Panelists analyzed the importance of a smooth transition process and key administration staff roles to be filled.

Viewers submitted questions for speakers via email to or via Twitter at @BrookingsGov or by using #Transition2021.



Lisa Brown

Vice President & General Counsel - Georgetown University

Co-Director of Agency Review for the Obama-Biden Transition Project

John Hudak

Former Brookings Expert

Director of the Office of Cannabis Policy - Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services

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