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Baker Institute Update: Former White House staffers look ahead to the 2017 transition
From left, Joshua Bolten, Martha Joynt Kumar and Thomas “Mack” McLarty discuss the planning necessary for a smooth presidential transition.

July 13, 2016: In this edition
Former White House staffers look ahead to the 2017 presidential transition

Former White House staffers drew on their experiences to offer insight and advice to the next administration at a recent conference on managing presidential transitions.
"Presidential Transitions in a Bipartisan Setting," held at the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, was the first of three conferences planned this year for the new Moody Series on Bipartisan Leadership convened at the Texas presidential libraries.
The series — a partnership between the Moody Foundation, the White House Transition Project (WHTP) and the Baker Institute — is an extension of a forthcoming series of WHTP reports on topics critical to a successful transfer of power. The WHTP reports will cover topics as diverse as the organizational structure and typical work routines of key White House personnel, including the president's chief of staff and communications director, and the first 100 days.  

The WHTP is led by Martha Joynt Kumar, a former political science professor and author of several books on the presidency, and Terry Sullivan, an associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina, and is supported this year by a grant from the Moody Foundation. Kumar and Sullivan have produced similar reports for the 2001 and 2009 presidential transition teams. The Baker Institute is providing administrative assistance for the third installment, which will be completed this fall.
Monday's conference in Dallas highlighted the bipartisan nature of modern presidential transitions and the planning needed to allow a new administration to hit the ground running. “The environment that the WHTP created has created the mindset about presidential transitions and the propriety and necessity of making preparations before a new administration takes office,” said panelist Joshua Bolten, President George W. Bush’s chief of staff.

All panelists featured at the first event are involved in efforts to solidify gains in transition planning and find ways to expand areas of agreement between parties, such as the presidential appointment process. 
Thomas “Mack” McLarty, President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, emphasized the importance of an efficient transition plan for national security and intelligence matters. “At the end of the day, most presidencies will be judged by peace, which is also security in the homeland, and prosperity,” he said.
Future events in the Moody series include a conference on national security transitions at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum at The University of Texas at Austin in September, and an event on crisis management at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University in October.

Click here to watch video of Monday's event.

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2003 Baker Institute-CFR report presages Chilcot findings

On July 6, the British government released the findings of its inquiry into the 2003 invasion of Iraq in what has become known as the Chilcot report. The report evaluates the reasons, planning and aftermath of the invasion, concluding that the UK and U.S.-led coalition made deeply flawed decisions.

In late 2002, in the months before the invasion, the Baker Institute partnered with the Council on Foreign Relations to provide guidance not on the decision to go to war, but on managing the post-war landscape, which was certain to be critical to the success of the mission. The resulting report, “Guiding Principles for U.S. Post-Conflict Policy in Iraq,” was provided to key policymakers and the public.

The report recommended, among other things, the swift reestablishment of law and order, and that the Iraqi armed forces and Ba’ath Party not be dismantled, lest the U.S. be forced to assume Iraq’s security and civilian administrative responsibilities. Unfortunately, the U.S. administration ignored these recommendations.

In light of the recent attention focused on this issue with the release of the Chilcot report, we are re-introducing the January 2003 report to highlight the value and foresight that nonpartisan experts can offer in guiding policy. A critical challenge for all think tanks, however, is finding receptive audiences among decision-makers.

To download "Guiding Principles for U.S. Post-Conflict Policy in Iraq," click here.

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Science and technology fellow wins presentation award

Kirstin R.W. Matthews, fellow in science and technology policy, received an award for best presentation for a talk she delivered at the International Association of Bioethics Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, in June.

Matthews was awarded best presentation in the “20x20” format category, which limited presenters to 20 slides and 20 seconds of explanation per slide. Her presentation, “Research Ethics and Integrity among Biologists and Physicists around the World,” highlighted findings from an international survey and interview project on the social factors that impact scientists and their work. Matthews’ talk examined issues such as scientists’ religiosity, their perspectives on ethical difficulties in their work, and their perceptions of conflict between science and religion.

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Upcoming Events
  • The 2016 Battle for Control of the White House: National Trends and Consequences for Texas. At this Roundtable Young Professionals event, political science fellow Mark Jones offers a nonpartisan take on the presidential election and how it will shape Texas’ future. 6:30 pm August 23
  • Integrating North America: Building a Modern, Efficient and Flexible Border. The Honorable Alan Bersin, assistant secretary for international affairs and chief diplomatic officer in the Office of Policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will address the progress and remaining challenges in the cross-border regions of the U.S., Mexico and Canada, while providing a vision for the future. 5:30 pm August 24
  • Smart Green Cities. Featured speaker Woodrow W. Clark II, co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, discusses his work on smart green communities and how such efforts can help mitigate the effects of climate change and global warming. 5:30 pm September 13
  • Stem Cell Tourism Near and Far: Achieving a Compromise for the Patient. Panelists examine the FDA’s efforts to combat stem cell tourism in the U.S. and why the clinical trial process is the gold standard for understanding the impact of therapeutic interventions. The dialogue also highlights options for better cooperation and collaboration between scientists, clinicians and the FDA to expedite proven therapies. 8:00 am September 22

For a complete list, visit our event page.

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Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy is a nonpartisan, independent think tank in Houston, Texas. The institute's fellows and scholars conduct research and collaborate with experts from academia, government, the media, business and private organizations on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy.
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