This was originally published as an exclusive to to Medium.
The peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next is a hallmark of American democracy. It sets us apart and serves as a shining example for the rest of the world. But behind the pomp and pageantry, the transition between administrations is rushed, chaotic and can be dangerous to our national security.
The transition is a period of vulnerability for our nation. At best, members of an incoming administration have an oral history of what was done before, binders full of documents too long to read and thousands of political appointments to fill. If they are lucky, they will get advance warning about looming crises and controversies they are about to inherit.
As the presidential campaign season heats up, we need to place as much emphasis on the ability of candidates to lead our government as we do on their policy positions. The question we should ask is, "Once elected, will this candidate be ready to govern our nation?" Candidates themselves must simultaneously campaign to win and prepare to govern if they expect to be effective.
The executive branch has roughly 4.1 million federal employees, including military service members. The budget is more than three trillion dollars a year, representing the missions of hundreds of organizations dedicated to everything from manufacturing the nation's money to food safety and space exploration.
Max Stier is President and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. The Partnership, in collaboration with a number of organizations, leads Ready to Govern, an initiative to ensure we have a smooth and safe transfer of presidential power and an effective national government.