It may look seamless from the outside but the United States' transition of power every four to eight years to a new administration is "the point of maximum vulnerability for our country," said Max Stier, who heads an organization that aims to smooth the changeover from one president to the next.
The upcoming transition from the Obama administration to that of the newly elected president will require a shift for thousands of political appointees, Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, told ABC’s This Week.
"There are 4,000 political appointees, there are over 1,100 that need confirmation, a $4 trillion budget," he said. "You've got hundreds of different operating organizations. There's no takeover on the planet or in history that is more complicated or more important."
With the changeover, there is a potential threat to American security, according to Stier, which makes “a smooth hand-off of power” vital.
"The idea really is to make sure that whoever comes next is actually prepared to run our government effectively starting with the national security establishment," Stier.
Stier said it's important for the nation to think ahead.
“Everyone is focused on the horse race. We see all the conversation about who is going to win, but in the reality, for all of us, we need to know who is going to run our government and whether they'll run it well,” he said.
“The campaign, and the promises you're hearing are only meaningful if the candidates can run the government effectively,” he said.
Stier and his group are helping to do that by providing insightful documentation and recommendations from previous transitions, preparing the thousands of new political appointees, and facilitating a dialogue on best practices for issues like human resources.
Compared to candidates in past elections, nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are preparing “a more active effort” in anticipation of the presidential transition. Both campaigns moved into government office space to begin the process just last Monday.
“Both Clinton and Trump have operating transition efforts going on,” Stier said. “Really important, because if you wait until the election, there's no way you can actually be ready to take over the government.”
The Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit nonpartisan organization, launched the Center for Presidential Transition in January to oversee an efficient transfer of power between one administration to the next.