Transition and the New Governor 2018


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2018 EDITION
TRANSITION AND THE NEW GOVERNOR
A PLANNING GUIDE
NGA Consulting www.nga.org/consulting

ABOUT NGA
NGA is boldly nonpartisan. Through NGA, governors share best practices, speak with an informed voice on national policy and develop innovative solutions that improve state government and support the principles of federalism.
WHO WE ARE
Founded in 1908, NGA is the voice of the nation’s governors in Washington and one of the nation’s most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 55 states, territories and commonwealths. NGA staff provide governors and their senior staff members with services to represent states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal policy issues.

2 • Transition and the New Governor

NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION 444 North Capitol Street NW, Suite 267
Washington, D.C. 20001 202-624-5300 www.nga.org
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Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Preface

7

Introduction

9

The Transition as a Springboard for Becoming an Effective Governor

9

A Firm Foundation

9

Getting Started: The Foundational Steps

11

The Setup of a Successful Transition

11

The First Step: The Congratulatory Phone Call

11

Designate a Point of Contact

12

Request an Economic and Budget Briefing

12

Request an Emergency Response Briefing

12

Request a Listing of Major Legal Issues

12

Request a Meeting of the Two Families at the Executive Residence

12

After the Congratulatory Call

13

Take a Break

13

Think about Themes and Priorities

14

Discuss Public Life and Living in the Executive Residence with the Family 15

Make Plans to Attend the NGA Seminar for New Governors

16

Governance: A Different Type of Power

17

The Six Levers of Power

18

People

18

Process

18

Programs

18

Pulpit

19

Preparedness

19

Partnership

19

People

22

Develop an Overall Strategy for Building the Team

22

Understanding Your Needs and Values

23

Recruit the Team

24

Formal Application Process

25

Team Balance

26

The Confirmation Process and Vetting Candidates

27

Take Time

28

Focus on Key Appointments

29

Stage Announcements Appropriately

33

Prepare for the End of the Relationship

33

Complete the Team

33

Office of the Governor and Cabinet

34

Cabinet and Key Agency Leaders

34

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Transition and the New Governor • 3

Table of Contents

Establish Performance Expectations

37

Special Note on Reorganizations

37

Process

39

Organizing the Governor’s Office

41

Operational Hierarchy

41

Develop Processes to Support the Governor’s Style

43

Scheduling Process

43

Decision-Making Process

45

Decision-Making Process Outcomes

46

No Formal Decision Unit in The Governor’s Office

47

Policy Directed Decision-Making Unit in the Governor’s Office

47

Decision-Making Clustered with Other Functions

48

Informational Processes

48

Periodic Meetings

49

Periodic Reporting

49

Personnel and Appointment Processes

51

Establishing “Contracts” with Appointees

51

Compliance and Ethics

52

Internal Communication

52

Processes: Putting it all Together

53

Programs

55

Establishing Priorities

55

Identify a Limited Number of Priorities

55

Establish Priorities and Segment Goals

56

Turn the Campaign Promises into an Action Agenda

57

Inventory Campaign Promises

57

Campaign Agenda Fiscal Impact

58

Issues Working Groups During Transition

58

Establish a First 100 Days Agenda

60

Develop a Four-Year Agenda

61

Establish the State Budget

61

Review and Understand the Revenue Forecast and Resource Availability 63

Focus on “Big Ticket” Items

64

Develop a Capital Investment Strategy

65

Determining Surpluses and Contingency Funds

66

Develop the “First Budget”

66

The Legislature and Budget Issues

67

Executive Actions

68

Executive Orders

68

Administrative Rules and Regulation

69

4 ••• TRANSITION AND THE NEW GOVERNOR

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Table of Contents

Pulpit

72

The Power of the “Bully Pulpit”

72

The “Rhythm” of the Office of the Governor

73

The Governor’s Role in the Communications Strategy

73

Communications Operations

74

Establish Clear Policies for Media Relations

75

Web-based Communications

75

Selecting Communications Staff Members

78

Common Responsibilities of the Communications Office

78

Special Note: Developing a Crisis Communications Plan

79

Extending the Power of the Pulpit to the Cabinet and Agencies

80

The Pulpit and the Legislature

81

Constituency Groups and the Pulpit

84

Constituent Services

85

Preparedness

89

The Importance of Emergency Preparedness

89

Understand Community Concerns and the Threats They Face

89

Know Your State’s Response Capabilities and Preparedness Efforts

90

Build Your Preparedness Cabinet

91

Champion Citizen Preparedness

92

Take Ownership of Homeland Security Strategies

92

Play an Active Role in Assessing Preparedness: Execute a Table Top Exercise 96

Partnership (Governor and Spouse)

99

The Governorship as a Partnership

99

Transitioning from Campaigning to Governing

99

The Role of the Governor’s Spouse

100

Mastering the Schedule (and Looking Ahead to Your Legacy)

101

Keeping Perspective and Maintaining a Work-Life Balance

102

Conclusion

104

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TRANSITION AND THE NEW GOVERNOR ••• 5

6 ••• TRANSITION AND THE NEW GOVERNOR

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Preface
PREFACE
During a gubernatorial campaign, nearly every candidate takes a moment to reflect on what it might be like to experience the transition process from campaigning to governing. Looking back, most sitting governors report that when they were newly elected, they had little idea how demanding and difficult the transition period would be. Most did not fully appreciate the importance of the first months of governorship to their overall performance in office.
Many candidates picture the transition as merely the period between election and inauguration. Most sitting governors, however, define the transition much more broadly. To experienced governors, transition encompasses the period stretching past the critical first 100 days in office to the point when they have confronted most of the important decisions and milestones of their early term. Broadly defined, the transition also includes the period in which most of the crucial personnel, decision-making processes, program development and communications processes are put in place and tested by the new governor.
The National Governors Association (NGA) maintains a series of publications designed to assist newly elected governors in assuming the responsibilities of leading and managing state government. Used as part of the curriculum at the biennial Seminar for New Governors, the publications have been designed to familiarize governors and their top staff with a wide range of issues, both organizational and political, in approaching governorship. Publications such as Tools and Techniques of Effective Governors; Overseeing State Government Operations in the Governor’s Office; and Organizing, Staffing and Operating the Governor’s Office fill a need felt by new governors for broad-based references on the roles of governorship as well as the organizational and management options available.
Although these publications are beneficial to newly elected governors, they do not thoroughly explore the critical transition period between Election Day and the conclusion of the first legislative session. Transition and the New Governor: A Planning Guide was written to focus almost exclusively on issues confronting the governor in the exhilarating but often difficult transition period. In offering guidance to new governors, this guide relies on advice offered by experienced governors to their newly elected colleagues.

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TRANSITION AND THE NEW GOVERNOR ••• 7

Preface
In particular, this guide answers several distinct and important questions:
• What must the newly elected governor do to prepare to assume office, especially during the period between Election Day and Inauguration Day? What immediate decisions must be made? Which decisions should be delegated and which should remain with the governor?
• During the transition period, how will the newly elected governor approach the job? What are experienced governors’ perspectives on being governor? What is the newly elected governor’s decisionmaking style?
• How can a newly elected governor turn campaign themes into an “agenda” for governing? How can the full range of resources available to the new governor be focused on the accomplishment of these critical goals during the first months of the new administration?
• What organizational, management, policy development and communications tools can be brought to bear by the new governor?
This transition guide was written to allow governors and their staff to take the reins as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Following the Introduction and Getting Started sections, this guide is organized into six sections: People, Process, Programs, Pulpit, Preparedness and Partnership, the six major areas a governor must address.

8 ••• TRANSITION AND THE NEW GOVERNOR

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Introduction

INTRODUCTION
Transition as a Springboard for Becoming an Effective Governor
“You are governor the moment you are elected . . . because the people think you are . . . Do not be led astray by statutes or the constitution or other formal documents that refer to the term of office as starting
after the transition ends.”
FORMER GOVERNOR
A Firm Foundation
There is no grace period for transition. The successful candidate is officially the governor-elect. Though the inauguration date may still be weeks away, his or her governorship has already begun. The newly elected governor’s decisions will be seen as his or her own, and their words and actions will be scrutinized closely not only by the press and the public, but also by an army of potential appointees, interested parties and state employees.
The early transition—from election to inauguration—can be viewed as a launching pad for a successful administration. By building a firm foundation during this period, the new governor will be more thoroughly prepared when the administration actually begins. It is during the early transition that many key interested parties get their first clear view of the style and substance of the new administration.
Consider potential results of a transition that has been poorly planned and executed:
• Mail goes unacknowledged for weeks or months, causing transition staff to be deluged with calls from disheartened job seekers and citizens;
• Applications for jobs or appointments to boards and commissions get lost in the system, creating a vast reservoir of ill will even before the new governor is sworn in;
• Delays and miscues occur in the recruitment of key cabinet and staff positions, causing the press to characterize the new governor as weak and indecisive;

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TRANSITION AND THE NEW GOVERNOR ••• 9

Introduction
• Little attention is spent on identifying and communicating the new governor’s vision for the state, and the inaugural and State of the State addresses are viewed as weak and disjointed;
• Minimal time or effort is spent by the new governor on reshaping the previous governor’s budget, allowing the legislature to control the budget and encouraging cabinet officials to deal directly with legislative leaders;
• Jockeying and infighting arise among the new governor’s staff because the organization of the governor’s office has not been thought through, leading to chaotic office conditions, inattention to important decisions and signs of ineptitude throughout the state bureaucracy;
• Inadequate vetting of candidates for high state government positions leads to embarrassing conflicts of interest and scandals later in the term; and
• A major natural disaster occurs and the new governor is unprepared, causing delays in emergency response and the loss of funds for cleanup.
The problems that can result from a badly handled transition can become vexing because the problems will snowball if not addressed. If left unchecked, they can grow so large that the administration loses credibility with the legislature, state bureaucracy, press and eventually the public. It is critical to the success of the governorship that the transition go as smoothly as possible.
“The most important goal of the transition is the long-term effect. In other words, the new governor should not allow short-term pressures and demands for immediate results to overshadow the absolute necessity of establishing a solid
administrative base for the entire term of office.”
FORMER GOVERNOR

10 ••• TRANSITION AND THE NEW GOVERNOR

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Transition and the New Governor 2018