Copyright © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved. US Election 2020: What is GSA ‘ascertainment’ and how does it impact Biden-Harris transition team? Being ascertained as the winner means the president-elect gets office space in each government agency to begin the transition process, along with computers and $9.9 million to begin hiring transition personnel. Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration (GSA), said in a letter to Mr. Biden on Monday that she was now making "certain post-election resources and services available to assist in the event of a presidential transition.". Delaying the process, Lu said, "impede[s] your ability to get a handle on what's happening in these agencies. General Services Administration Administrator should ‘respect the will of the American people,' says Biden team official News Service 17:05 November 11, 2020 AA US President-elect Joe Biden "When the 9/11 Commission did their autopsy on what went wrong, one of the things they pointed to was the slow pace of the Bush administration getting their national security team in place. The GSA said in the weeks following the election that Murphy could not yet ascertain the winner of the presidential race, citing the precedent established after the 2000 election, when court battles over the Florida recount delayed the transition by several weeks. However, that race involved a dispute over one state with a difference of 537 votes separating the two candidates, and Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump by thousands of votes in several states. WASHINGTON—Subcommittee on Government Operations Ranking Member Jody Hice (R-Ga.) today wrote Emily Murphy, Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), correcting Democrats’ misrepresentation of the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 and calling on GSA to adhere to the … ", In her letter, Murphy said she "did not receive any direction to delay my determination" and did not make any decisions "out of fear or favoritism.". In a statement earlier this month, an ODNI spokesperson said that the agency would not act until the GSA makes a move. Biden transition hangs in limbo, awaiting GSA certification for results to become official ... one week after the 2020 elections, … Politics Joe Biden 2020 Election Trump Administration Presidential Transition The GSA is a sprawling bureaucracy established in 1949 that now has 12,000 employees and a $21 billion budget. In order to start this process, however, federal law states the GSA administrator must first issue a letter of "ascertainment" determining the likely winner of the race. USA TODAY'S coverage of the 2020 election continues this week as states certify their vote counts after President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the hard-fought presidential race. The election was called at about 11 p.m. on election night, and within about two hours, I received a letter from the GSA administrator ascertaining that Sen. Obama was the president-elect," he said. Eight months later, we had 9/11," Marchick said. The GSA is a sprawling bureaucracy established in 1949 that now has 12,000 employees and a $21 billion budget. Posted: Nov 23, 2020 / 04:50 PM MST / Updated: Nov 23, 2020 / 05:12 PM MST President-elect Joe Biden smiles as he speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. MacKichan said he believes GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee, has so far acted properly. David Marchick, who directs the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition, said there are important real-world implications for a delayed transition. Informal transition planning can occur without the GSA's official blessing. The Biden transition team did not wait to begin the process. The agency review process will help lay the foundation for meeting these challenges on Day One," said Senator Ted Kaufman, co-chair of the transition team. The head of the General Services Administration, a Trump appointee, did not quite admit that Biden won. His team has launched a wave of lawsuits challenging various aspects of the election. President Trump has refused to concede the election, even as several states have begun certifying their results. Bush administrations, told NPR the law is kind of vague about what this actually means. 2020 Elections. Romney accused Trump on resorting to “overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election.” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., went after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who held a press conference Thursday presenting a list of far-fetched, thoroughly debunked claims on the 2020 election. According to a fact sheet from the Center for Presidential Transition, Mr. Trump's 2016 transition team had 328 agency review personnel engage with 42 government agencies. In a tweet on Monday, Mr. Trump inched closer to a concession, saying that he was "recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.". Contracts and Acquisitions – Extensive self-service training on the web, including: ", Marchick said Americans want the outgoing administration and the incoming one to collaborate on national security and issues such as getting a COVID-19 vaccine distributed, and that "the sooner that collaboration starts, the better to resolve our multiple crises. GSA Administrator Received ‘Thousands’ of Threats To Declare Biden the Winner, or Else. This is a person who knows the government well, and he's surrounded by an experienced team of people that have worked in these government agencies. The 9/11 Commission Report found that the shortened transition process after the 2000 election contributed to the nation's unpreparedness for the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Mr. Biden expected to announce Tony Blinken, a longtime diplomat and a member of Mr. Biden's inner circle, as his secretary of state. That being said, if there's one person who can overcome this, I think it's Joe Biden. Biden cannot access government funds or communicate with federal agencies until the GSA certifies his win. First published on November 10, 2020 / 2:24 PM. Murphy is a Trump appointee and former Republican staffer on Capitol Hill, and has a reputation as a "diligent professional," according to The New York Times. The peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another is one of the cornerstones of American democracy. But again, this is not ideal.". (R-Mo. The GSA provides a presidential transition team with Washington office space and coordinates access to federal agencies to plan potential policy changes with current administration officials, using $6.3 million allocated to support its efforts. The Biden-Harris Transition Team announced key members of its agency review teams on its website earlier this month. Murphy is the administrator for the GSA, responsible for ascertaining the election results at a national level and releasing … Trump administration allows Biden transition ... Federal agency key to presidential transition... Arizona GOP asks followers if they'd die to overturn Trump loss, The last long-shot chance for Trump allies to challenge election results, Pelosi says lawmakers are "close" to reaching deal on COVID relief proposal, Texas sues over election results in battleground states Biden won, California Privacy/Information We Collect. Robert MacKichan, who was general counsel to the GSA during the Reagan and George H.W. Transition 2020. "This was not an issue at all in 2008. The General Services Administration hasn't given Biden's team the resources yet that a presidential transition team traditionally receives. What does the General Services Administration do during a presidential transition? Ed O'Keefe and Andres Triay contributed to this report. A transition expert familiar with the GSA told CNN that it has “always been a quick decision.” In the 2016 Trump election, the source said, it was made by the Obama administration the day after. The transition process is critical because it allows a new administration to begin considering how it will implement its priorities before taking office, and allows incoming officials to gain access to classified intelligence about threats around the world. hide caption. President-elect Joe Biden speaks to the media Monday in Wilmington, Del. Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital based in Washington, D.C. Joe Raedle/Getty Images Democrats demand briefing from GSA chief on delay in ascertaining Biden’s win. Delaying the transition process can affect national security. Now that process can formally begin, as the leader of the federal agency which oversees the transition has signed a letter of "ascertainment" affirming the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. Within hours of the General Services Administration’s acknowledgement Monday evening of Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 election, career federal officials opened the doors of agencies to hundreds of transition aides ready to prepare for his Jan. 20 inauguration. GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, shown here at a 2018 congressional hearing, on Nov. 23 formally ascertained Joe Biden to be the apparent winner of the 2020 presidential election. "The work of the agency review teams is critical for protecting national security, addressing the ongoing public health crisis, and demonstrating that America remains the beacon of democracy for the world.". The nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition, which includes veterans from administrations of both parties, released a statement earlier this month urging the GSA to kickstart the transition process. But one thing Biden cannot do at this point is move into any government office space or receive government funding for the transition. President-elect Joe Biden has begun planning his transition, naming a team of experts Monday to work on the coronavirus pandemic. He has been receiving a lower-level briefing since he was formally nominated, but is not receiving the Presidential Daily Brief, the crown jewel of intelligence products. In 2000, President Bill Clinton approved classified intelligence briefings for George W. Bush two weeks before the GSA administrator recognized Mr. Bush as the winner. "That slowed the process of the Bush administration getting their national security team in place. Mr. Biden has also begun to name several key administration officials, filling key positions on his national security team. "We urge the Trump administration to immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the Presidential Transition Act. "We must be prepared for a seamless transfer of knowledge to the incoming administration to protect our interests at home and abroad. A key, if little-known Trump administration official has yet to determine formally that Biden won the election, holding up some crucial resources traditionally available to the president-elect. “These are issues that the Constitution, federal laws, and state laws leave to the election certification process and decisions by courts of competent … The General Services Administration (GSA) has informed President-elect Joe Biden Monday evening that it has ascertained him as the apparent winner of the 2020 presidential election, paving the way to … "GSA and its Administrator will continue to abide by, and fulfill, all requirements under the law and adhere to prior precedent established by the Clinton Administration in 2000," a spokesperson for GSA told CBS News in a statement earlier this month. But that decision came only after a December Supreme Court ruling. Nov. 24, 2020 (EIRNS)—Citing “recent developments involving legal challenges and certification of election results”—clear references to the decisions announced on Monday in Pennsylvania and Michigan—as the basis for her decision, the Administrator of the General Services Administration … Under the 1963 Presidential Transition Act, it's up to the General Services Administration, or GSA, to determine or "ascertain" the winner of the presidential election, at least as far as starting the process of turning over the keys to the new administration goes. Mr. Biden has also already begun communicating with foreign leaders, a process that normally runs through the State Department. The federal General Services Administration on Monday officially recognized Joe Biden as the president-elect, clearing the way for him to begin a formal presidential transition and handover of power. Biden Team Awaits GSA Certification of Election Win. President-elect Joe Biden speaks to the media Monday in Wilmington, Del. David Barram, the administrator of GSA during the contested 2000 election, has explicitly rejected the idea that the 2020 election is comparable to 2000, saying on a podcast last week that the current situation is “dramatically different” from the one he dealt with that year. The election was called at about 11 p.m. on election night, and within about two hours, I received a letter from the GSA administrator ascertaining that Sen. Obama was the president-elect," he said. ODNI would not have contact with any transition team until notified by the GSA Administrator," the spokesperson said. GSA offers a wide variety of training for managers and employees throughout the federal government, including web-based, self-training tools and on-site events nationwide. With arguments about the 2020 presidential election results dragging on, more and more pressure is falling directly on the head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy. Chris Lu, who was former President Barack Obama's transition director in 2008, said the process for his team was much different. In a statement, the GSA said its administrator "ascertains the apparent successful candidate once a winner is clear based on the process laid out in the Constitution.". "If I were in her shoes right now, given what has been publicly made available, I think it would be premature," based on the 2000 election. ... the General Services Administration has not "ascertained" the winner and Mr. Biden's team is getting antsy. “GSA does not dictate the outcome of legal disputes and recounts, nor does it determine whether such proceedings are reasonable or justified,” she continued. Marchick points to the delay in the transition to the George W. Bush administration after the Supreme Court ruling. Biden Team Awaits GSA Certification of Election Win Source: Wall Street Journal Joe Biden's transition team is still waiting for the federal government to formalize his win, a move that would trigger the flow of government resources to the president-elect's team, including more government office space, millions of … The Associated Press and other news organizations reported that Biden gained the electoral votes needed to win the election on Saturday, but President Trump has so far refused to concede and has falsely claimed widespread voter fraud. It was clear who won the 2020 election, they argued, unlike in 2000, when the contest was decided by several hundred votes in Florida and a recount that wound up in the Supreme Court. Become a GSA Vendor Pre-Qualify as a GSA Vendor Most GSA contracts require a company to be in business for at least two years and show an annual revenue of at least $25,000. Mr. Trump's campaign has launched lawsuits in several states to discount votes which it considers to be disputed, although these efforts have so far been unsuccessful. He has spoken to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In 2016, the decision by the GSA acting administrator to begin the transition process occurred on November 9, the day after the election. It Didn't Go As Planned. Some contracts require specific skills and experience, especially in technical and service contracts. Mr. Biden's transition team on Monday unveiled members of its coronavirus advisory board, comprised of former health officials and public health experts. 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The move is essentially a formal recognition by the current administration that a new president has been elected and a transition will occur. 2020 Election Results. "While there will be legal disputes requiring adjudication, the outcome is sufficiently clear that the transition process must now begin," the statement from the center's advisory board said. / CBS News. Lu said he is "not aware that this has really ever been an issue in previous elections.". "I take this role seriously and, because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, am transmitting this letter today to make those resources and services available to you," Murphy said in her letter. It works largely behind the scenes to support other federal entities, with responsibility for managing federal office space, procuring supplies and improving the use of technology across the government. And they said it impaired our ability to react. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has not begun high-level briefings for Mr. Biden. News Brief: Election Certification, ... November 24, 2020 5:08 AM ET. In 2008, President Barack Obama's transition team had 349 agency review personnel who engaged with 62 agencies. "There's no legal standard contained within this act as to what constitutes the ascertainment," he said. The General Services Administration hasn't given Biden's team the resources yet that a presidential transition team traditionally receives. It's unclear whether the State Department has listened in on the calls. ... Pennsylvania is nearing certification of its election results, too. ", Trump May Never Concede And 4 Other 2020 Election Takeaways, Final Act Of Trump Era Could Be As Tumultuous As The Preceding Years, FACT CHECK: Trump's Claim That Biden's Wins Aren't Certified Won't Change The Outcome, Republicans Toggle Between Congratulating Biden And Saying Election Isn't Over Yet, Trump Tried To Make This Election 2016 Again. Pressure mounts on federal agency to affirm Biden victory. Steps to Become a GSA … ), the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which handles election matters, downplayed the impact of a delayed election certification by the federal government. The agency cited the contested 2000 election in which George W. Bush was eventually declared the winner over Al Gore as "prior precedent." In an initial statement after the election, a GSA spokesperson said that the Biden transition team is receiving pre-elect services which include office space, computers, and background investigations for security clearances. © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. 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