|As to be expected, a plethora of people from the tech world or with tech experience will guide the transition to the Biden Administration.|
The Biden-Harris Transition has announced the teams that will review the agencies of the United States (U.S.) government with an eye towards the policies and personnel President-elect Joe Biden may want to change or install. This is a customary part of the transition process that allows an incoming Administration to learn from the out-going Administration about challenges, problems, risks, etc. Given the size, power and reach of technology companies, it is not a surprise a number of current and former technology field employees were named to the transition teams.
However, no matter how proactive the Biden-Harris transition teams can be or may want to be, they are necessarily hamstrung because the General Services Administration (GSA), contrary to usual practice, has still not formally designated Joe Biden as the President-elect. This has the practical effect of barring transition teams from their normal access to senior agency officials, obtaining government email addresses, starting the process of shepherding nominees and staff through the background check and financial disclosure process, and receiving funding set aside to finance the transition. Consequently, there may well be a difficult start to a Biden Administration, for it has happened that poorly run or managed transitions have harmed presidencies (e.g. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton had rough transitions). However, the Biden-Harris team is turning to many people with vast experience in the executive branch and may survive a shortened transition as did the George W. Bush Administration in 2000-2001. For example, longtime Democratic insider and White House veteran Ron Klain has been named Biden’s Chief of Staff.
It bears note that Klain is lauded for being of both the tech world, for he joined Revolution Capital in 2005, a Washington, D.C. based venture capital firm started by AOL founder Steve Case. However, he took leaves of absence to serve as Biden’s first chief of staff when he was Vice-President and to be the Obama Administration’s Ebola Czar.
The Federal Trade Commission’s transition team is:
- Heather Hippsley, Team Lead, formerly of the Federal Trade Commission
- Bill Baer of the Brookings Institution
- Laura Moy of Georgetown University
Hippsley served as former FTC Chair Edith Ramirez’s Chief of Staff and was the agency’s Deputy General Counsel until this spring. She worked for the FTC for 35 years in a number of roles and has deep inside knowledge of the agency. Baer is a former FTC and Department of Justice (DOJ) official who holds the distinction of being the only person to have run both agencies’ antitrust departments. In a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing, Baer spoke forcefully about the need to break up large technology companies. Moy is a law professor who has testified numerous times on Capitol Hill about the need for strong, robust privacy legislation, far stronger than most of the mainstream bills introduced in this Congress.
Eleswhere, Clare Gallagher of Airbnb, Inc. and Austin Lin of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (created by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife) were named to the National Security Council team. The Office of Management and Budget team includes Brandon Belford of Lyft, Inc., Divya Kumaraiah of Airbnb, Inc., and Mark Schwartz of Amazon Web Services. The United States Digital Services team consists of, Matt Bailey, Team Lead, of PEN America, and Andrew Nacin of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
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