What is GSA and its role in the US presidential transition process

On Monday, General Services Administration (GSA) chief Emily Murphy sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden, officially authorising the start of the presidential transition. In her letter of “ascertainment” which came after weeks of delay, Murphy wrote, “As the Administrator of the US General Services Administration, I have the ability under the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended, to make certain post-election resources and services available to assist in the event of a presidential transition.”

Here’s everything you need to know about the GSA and its role in the US presidential transition process:

What is the GSA and its purpose?

The GSA, which was established in 1949 and has 12,000 employees and a $21 billion budget, works largely behind the scenes to support other federal entities in managing federal office space, procuring supplies and improving the use of technology across the government. Therefore, the GSA provides the presidential transition team with Washington office space and also helps in coordinating access to federal agencies.

Read more | Trump relents finally, tells officials to cooperate with Biden transition team

Why did the GSA take so long to officially authorise the start of the presidential transition?

As Trump’s campaign has launched lawsuits in several states resulting in the results being disputed, GSA chief Murphy said that the winner of the presidential race could not be ascertained. This has also happened before in the 2000 election.

What will happen next?

As Biden has already started naming his cabinet picks, informal transition has been going on since his victory in the November 3 presidential election. Therefore, the Biden transition team did not wait for the process of transition to officially begin. But now after Murphy’s authorisation, the Biden transition team will start receiving pre-elect services which include office space, computers, and background investigations for security clearances. Most importantly, the transition team will be provided with funding and will be officially allowed to meet their counterparts across federal agencies

All of this will ultimately help in the smooth transition and prepare the new administration to take over in January.

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