US State Government Transitions
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US Federal Government Transitions

Government transitions—from one administration, or one term, to the next—are immense and complex undertakings. Newly elected leaders have only 75 days to shift abruptly from campaigning to governing. For first-term presidents, their team must also master the intricacies of the federal agencies as they prepare to assume responsibility for the executive branch. In a change of administration, hundreds of federal leaders—who oversee critical missions protecting the nation, delivering citizen services, and managing essential resources—must turn over simultaneously, with no break in delivery. Incumbents also must manage significant changes if reelected; over the last two decades, on average over 40 percent of a president’s Cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, and undersecretaries change in the first six months of a second term.

For nearly 70 years, we have helped support presidential transitions. As part of our commitment to good governance, we have provided non-partisan support for federal leaders of all parties as they ensure continuity of operations during the critical transition period. In this time we have developed insights into what works, and we continue to conduct independent research to help new leaders and their teams with best practices, lessons learned, and off-the-shelf approaches that can be tailored to the unique circumstance of each transition.

Running a Federal Transition


Moving teams from campaign to transition: Five things to get right

– How the shift from campaigning to transitioning is managed can set the foundation for an administration.

Government transitions during crisis: How new leaders can take charge

– Transfers of power are complex—in times of crises, especially so. Here are seven lessons for leaders at all levels of government transitioning into new roles.

How to lead a successful government transition

– The government transition period between an outgoing and an incoming government leader is a remarkable opportunity to capitalize on the momentum of the election and lay the foundation for success. A six-step approach can set an incoming administration on the right path.

Leading in the Public Sector


Scaling digital in the public sector: Building blocks for the future

– The upcoming government transition presents public-sector leaders with the opportunity to establish processes for successfully scaling digital technologies.

Increasing decision-making velocity: Five steps for government leaders

– Government leaders can challenge the norms of how their organizations work and dramatically increase their decision-making speed and agility.

How public-sector tech leaders can speed up the journey to the cloud

– Moving to the cloud is fraught with challenges. By answering five questions up front, public-sector leaders can ease and accelerate the journey.

Building the tech-enabled government of the future—a ‘Day 1’ list of common pitfalls

– If you can recognize and avoid them, you can make your programs more successful—quickly. Start on your very first day.

Transforming the US government’s approach to hiring digital talent

– Attracting digital talent to government jobs has been a challenge, with consequences felt throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Leaders can rethink their approach to build resilience for future crises.

Rethinking public-sector contract negotiations to secure value for taxpayers

– Key negotiation practices can result in significant cost savings in public-sector procurement.
Blog Post

Fitter, flatter, faster: How unstructuring your organization can unlock massive value

– Organizing for the future requires adopting an operating model that is more dynamic, more flexible, and less structured than most companies use today. Following five steps can help companies unlock value by making their structure more agile.

Lessons from the military for COVID-time leadership

– “Mission command” and other military principles can guide policy makers and business leaders thrust into crisis.

Decision making in the age of urgency

– Decision making takes up a lot of time, much of it used ineffectively. New survey results offer lessons for making quick, high-quality decisions that support outperformance.

Advice from Silicon Valley: How tech-sector practices can promote innovation in government

– Public-sector leaders recently met with leaders from the region’s most innovative companies to learn about their culture of innovation firsthand. Here’s what they heard.

Elements of a successful government transformation

– Five essential disciplines can more than triple the success rate of public-sector change efforts.

How the public sector can remain agile beyond times of crisis

– Public-sector organizations have shown they can be nimble in a crisis. Focusing on agility could help them keep pace with changing needs during challenges—and beyond.

Insights by topic


When will the COVID-19 pandemic end?

– Our November 23 update takes on the questions raised by recent news: When will vaccines be available? And is the end of COVID-19 nearer?

Building supportive ecosystems for Black-owned US businesses

– The right business ecosystems can mitigate or negate the effects of structural obstacles to business building for Black business owners—and add $290 billion in business equity.

Fighting identity theft in benefit claims and payments

– US government agencies are using analytics to mitigate fraud at scale and ensure benefits get into the hands of citizens who need them most.

Women in the Workplace 2020

– In a year marked by crisis and uncertainty, corporate America is at a crossroads. The choices companies make today will have consequences on gender equality for decades to come.
Interactive - McKinsey Quarterly

The 1.5-degree challenge

– Holding warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels could limit the most dangerous and irreversible effects of climate change.

Reimagining the postpandemic economic future

– As the COVID-19 crisis continues to devastate US lives and livelihoods, policy makers are challenged to emerge from it in a way that lays a foundation for a strong, healthy economy in the long run.
Report - McKinsey Global Institute

Risk, resilience, and rebalancing in global value chains

– Companies need an understanding of their exposure, vulnerabilities, and potential losses to inform resilience strategies.

Insights on racial and ethnic health inequity in the context of COVID-19

– McKinsey’s Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare shares insights on underlying health inequities that contribute to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and vulnerable populations.

Reimagining infrastructure in the United States: How to build better

– Infrastructure agencies need to prepare for two very different scenarios—a sharp rise in funding or a precipitous drop.

A government blueprint to adapt the ecosystem to the future of work

– Digital and artificial intelligence technologies will likely have a substantial economic and social impact. Governments can act now to create shared prosperity and better lives for all citizens.
Report - McKinsey Global Institute

Making it in America: Revitalizing US manufacturing

– The erosion of US manufacturing isn’t a foregone conclusion. The decade ahead—with increased demand, new technology, and value chain optimization—will give the sector a chance to turn around.

Connect with our Government Transitions experts