The nation is still almost four weeks away from the presidential election and more than three months away from the inauguration. But the transition to the new administration is already under way - even though the outcome is still not known.

President Bush on Thursday signed an executive order Thursday that is designed to help ease the transition from his presidency to the one of his successor. Basically, the Associated Press reported, it turns over the keys to the White House to the person who wins the election on Nov. 4.

It’s no secret that the winning candidate will not have the luxury of a weeks-long vacation as a reward for victory. Both John McCain and Barack Obama have already designated officials to oversee such a transition once the results of the election are final. The transition team of the winning candidate will establish procedures for selecting key appointed personnel and making policy decision in the 11 weeks before inauguration day.

Congress has appropriated $8 million to finance the transition.

A smooth switch is important any time there’s a change in the White House, but it’s especially important now, as President Bush pointed out as he signed the order. The United States is fighting a war overseas and grappling with critical domestic issues.

Bush’s order established a presidential transitional coordinating council whose members include top officials from the intelligence and national security community, as well as the White House budget office, the Justice Department, Homeland Security and other agencies. Even before the election, they will work with the Obama and McCain campaigns “on an equal basis and without regard for party affiliation,” the order directs. “The council shall assist the major party candidates and the president-elect by making every reasonable effort to facilitate the transition between administrations.”

“Change” has become the buzz word for both major parties’ candidates, but the nation cannot afford to let the move to new administrative leadership be disruptive to the country’s security, economy or administrative process. This executive order puts onto paper what Americans expect of their governmental leaders.

Brownwood Bulletin