The Obama transition organization was called the Obama-Biden Transition Project. The transition team was convened during the height of the campaign, well before the outcome could be known, to begin making preparations for a potential administration. It was co-chaired by John Podesta, who was Bill Clinton’s fourth and last White House Chief of Staff and the president/chief executive officer of the Center for American Progress, Valerie Jarrett, who is one of Obama’s longest-serving advisers, and Pete Rouse, former Senate chief of staff for Tom Daschle who succeeded Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff.
On November 5, the General Services Administration declared that Obama was the “apparent winner”, making him eligible to receive transition funding and other government services, and granting him access to their 2008 Presidential Transition Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Podesta estimated that the transition would employ approximately 450 people and have a budget of about $12 million: $5.2 million would be paid by the federal government and the remaining $6.8 million would be funded by private sources, with each contribution limited to $5,000. The transition project would not accept money from political action committees or federal lobbyists.
Banners celebrating Obama’s ties to Chicago and his 2008 victory
On November 5, Obama announced his complete transition team, which was organized as a nonprofit tax-exempt organization under U.S. federal tax code 501(c)(4). The advisory board consisted of Carol Browner, William M. Daley, Christopher Edley, Michael Froman, Julius Genachowski, Donald Gips, Janet Napolitano, Federico Peña, Susan Rice, Sonal Shah, Mark Gitenstein and Ted Kaufman.
Members of the transition team’s senior staff included:
Chris Lu – Executive Director
Dan Pfeiffer – Communications Director
Stephanie Cutter – Chief Spokesperson
Robert Gibbs - Press Secretary
Cassandra Butts – General Counsel
Jim Messina – Personnel Director
Patrick Gaspard – Associate Personnel Director
Christine A. Varney - Personnel Counsel
Melody Barnes – Co-Director of Agency Review
Lisa Brown – Co-Director of Agency Review
Phil Schiliro – Director of Congressional Relations
Michael Strautmanis – Director of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs
Katy Kale – Co-Director of Operations
Brad Kiley – Co-Director of Operations
Joshua Gotbaum and Michael Warren headed the transition of the Treasury Department. In addition, Thomas Donilon and Wendy Sherman oversaw the transition of the State Department. Seth D. Harris oversaw the transition in all of the labor, education, and transportation agencies with Edward Montgomery leading the Labor Department agency review team, Mortimer Downey leading the Transportation Department agency review team, and Judith Sherman leading the Education Department agency review team. Finally, John P. White and Michele Flournoy led the transition of the Defense Department.