Press release

New EY book reveals realities facing the next President-elect’s transition team when making political appointments

Washington, 7 June 2016

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  • Latest book in EY Initiative in Leadership series outlines political appointment process in U.S. Federal Government coming out of 2016 presidential election
  • Book draws from seven years of interviews of 65 high-level executives who served in the Obama administration from 2009-2015

After Americans leave the ballot box in less than six months’ time, the incoming presidential administration will be faced with filling hundreds of key political appointments across the Federal Government.

To understand the challenges and opportunities involved in this process, Paul Lawrence, a leader in the Federal Government Consulting Practice of Ernst & Young LLP and Mark A. Abramson, President of Leadership Inc., present the findings of a seven-year study examining the full life-cycle of top political appointees in the Obama administration, charting their nomination and confirmation process all the way to their last days in office.

The study, Succeeding as a Political Executive: 50 Insights From Experience, released today is the fourth publication in the EY Initiative in Leadership book series. Drawn from extensive interviews of officials across the Federal Government and also the European public sector, the book serves as an on-the-job resource for incoming political appointees who are to assume leadership positions in the next administration. It also acts as a how-to-guide to hand-picking next year's incoming class of political executives who will serve in the Federal Government. The book also provides insights into the reasons why prospective appointees should or should not seek or take an appointment.

Paul Lawrence, Principal at Ernst & Young LLP's Government and Public Sector practice, says,

“The goal of this book is to speed up the proverbial learning curve of political appointees in the next presidential administration. While a few select appointees will start their jobs at the time of the inauguration on January 20, 2017, the majority of appointees will arrive much later in the year from March to December. Many will find themselves playing catch-up during their first year in office. This book will provide direct insights on how to quickly master this learning curve and hit the ground running successfully.”

Full of behind-the-scenes insights and practical advice from government political executives on how they have managed challenges in real time, the book is based on interviews of 65 high-level executives who served in the Obama administration. It also provides some international perspective with interviews of seven European political executives from France and Germany.

Lawrence says, “Getting a presidential appointment is hard. The odds are against most people - even for those working on winning campaigns or having outstanding credentials. The stakes become even higher when accepting a presidential appointment. While many appointees leave Washington with their careers enhanced, there is also a risk of leaving Washington with a damaged reputation. The key takeaway from our research is the importance of getting the right person into the right job. While this may seem obvious, it is the key to success for any presidential administration. There are many components to this simple equation.”


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This news release has been issued by EYGM Limited, a member of the global EY organization that also does not provide any services to clients.