Cabinet Agencies Look to Next Administration

The Veterans Affairs Department prepares for the next president.

By + More

The federal bureaucracy normally turns about as fast as a battleship. So with a new administration heading to town in about six months, some are already looking to ready their programs and workforce for whoever wins the White House: Sen. John McCain or Sen. Barack Obama. In focus today—the Veterans Affairs Department. Secretary James Peake, in the middle of instituting major reforms after just six months on the job, is already looking to build a smooth transition to the next administration, which takes over on January 20. "I'm already giddying-up," he tells us. "I want to do it right." Peake said that the White House has not issued transition plans but feels that he should be getting his department ready to hand off key programs and ongoing reforms to the next secretary in a way that will continue the changes already taking place. He said the bulk of the transition work will occur after Election Day. The key issue, of course, is taking care of the returning Iraq and Afghanistan war vets. Among the other major issues he hopes the new administration will continue is building a paperless system to track vets and continued spending on new IT equipment. "It's going to require resources," he said, of replacing old computers to handle claims from vets.