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Everybody is abuzz with respect to the transition.  Names leak out here and there on who is getting appointments, and then in the crucible of the media and the blogosphere, those names are scrutinized, praised, critiqued, and thrown against the wall.

But the part of the transition that you HAVEN'T heard about has little to do with cabinet appointments, and everything to do with running a competent government from Day One.

And President Elect Obama has that part of the transition going on, right now, in Washington.

You may have missed it on Friday last week when Obama announced the appointment of "Agency Review Teams" to go over the executive operations of government prior to Obama taking the oath:

The Agency Review Teams for the Obama-Biden Transition will complete a thorough review of key departments, agencies and commissions of the United States government, as well as the White House, to provide the President-elect, Vice President-elect, and key advisors with information needed to make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration. The Teams will ensure that senior appointees have the information necessary to complete the confirmation process, lead their departments, and begin implementing signature policy initiatives immediately after they are sworn in.

Now, it may not seem like a big deal, but for Washington, it pretty much is.  Consider that the last two transitions -- from Bush I to Clinton, and from Clinton to Bush II -- had nothing like this whatsoever. When Clinton took office, people pretty much agree that his transition was fair sloppy, announcing cabinet posts and White House staff in a rush in the final weeks before being sworn in.  And we know the Bush transition was a disaster.  One word: Florida.

But there is definitely an air of change taking place during the unusually cold Washington autumn. Indeed, career employees of agencies are really impressed that this much forethought is going into the transition.  Moreover, from what I've heard from some of the feds I know, it is rather remarkable.  The transition team, almost surprisingly in some respects, has been given access to agency office space and staff to go over policy decisions and the like prior to January 20th.

Now, I realize people are clamoring for the "big change" in the form of some sort of sexy names in terms of Cabinet posts.  But frankly, I think the obsession about "who" will be running these agencies isn't nearly as important as how President Elect Obama is demonstrating how he wants them to be run.

And the simple act of due diligence with respect to the executive is a earthquake of change unseen in at least the past twenty years, and potentially longer.

So, kvetch about the transition if you like. Get your pet peeves out about cabinet appointments and such. But so far, color me impressed, if only because the Obama administration is working now, doing their homework, and preparing to take charge on January 20th.

Definitely the kind of change we need in Washington D.C. And change that, frankly, is universally welcomed.

Originally posted to wmtriallawyer on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 11:26 AM PST.

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