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Bush transition can shift to high gear

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As president-elect, George W. Bush will now get the keys to three floors of downtown Washington space and permission to spend $5.2 million in presidential transition funds.

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However, there's a good chance the space will remain vacant. Locked out of transition funding from the General Service Administration amid the legal wrangling over Florida's disputed 25 electoral votes, the Bush team raised $1.5 million and rented their own office space in suburban Virginia.

Staffers have already taken in some 18,000 resumes, a number of them submitted online, for positions ranging from administrative clerk to Cabinet secretary. By their own count, the administration-in-waiting must fill 1,125 posts requiring Senate confirmation, along with more than 5,000 other jobs.

The results so far? A partially filled dance card for the next administration.

"I think we will be able to make announcements soon," Bush recently told reporters. "I've been taking this transition seriously."

There are lists upon lists for the next president to review before he takes office. Bush must pick not only candidates for high-level Cabinet posts, but undersecretaries, ambassadors and directors of bureaus and other government services -- not to mention appointees to a number of boards, commissions, and government advisory panels subject to the president's review.

Many of the new appointees must undergo FBI background checks and provide complete financial disclosures to clear government ethics requirements. All of that must must now be completed in five weeks, half the routine 10-week transition period.

"You go to the FBI where they investigate the answers to your forms, there are only so many FBI agents available to do that. Then you go to the office of government ethics, where they clear your financial disclosure and cure any conflicts of interest you might have," said Paul Light, director of government studies at the Brookings Institution.

"Then you go up to Capitol Hill for Senate confirmation. All of these choke points can only handle so many names at a time."

And if you're considering one of those jobs, you might also have to worry about hiring a competent real estate broker. Washington, after all, is a hot property market this year.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2000

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