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Obama Transition Team Ushers in Agency Reviews, New Ethics Rules

The transition rules, which stipulate that those involved with federal lobbying in a certain area will not be allowed to participate in shaping the transition team’s policy on that subject matter, “are the strictest, most far-reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history,” transition co-chair John Podesta said in a Tuesday afternoon media briefing.

In addition to tightly regulating lobbyist influence in the transition period as well as the new administration, the agency review teams will be deployed to every government agency, beginning Monday. Team leaders and their biographies will be made public on the transition team’s Web site, change.gov.

“This is part of our commitment to make this the most open and transparent transition in history,” Podesta said.

While Podesta noted President Bush has “graciously offered his full support and assistance,” he emphasized that Mr. Obama is eager to get his cabinet appointments and staff in place can “hit the ground running on Jan. 20.”

He urged patience the transition team reviews candidates for Cabinet positions, saying very few presidents have named members before December.

“We anticipate that we’ll be able to both make appropriate selections, get those people through the clearance process, that those nominations therefore will be forthcoming to the Senate,” Podesta said. “We’re hopeful that we can do a great deal better than previous administrations,” he added in regard to past delays in approving or denying appointments.

The Obama administration will hold “excellence” as “the first priority for all these people coming into government,” but will strive to include people of all races, genders and political backgrounds, Podesta said. “We’ll have a cabinet that reflects the same kind of approach that Senator Obama took in the campaign.”

The transition team will make economic recovery and energy policy their priorities, Podesta added.

“Our first priority will be laying the groundwork to stabilize the economy and put America back to work,” he said.

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