The Presidential Transition Index: Contemporaneous Assessments of the Trump-Biden Transition



Though the transition from the Trump administration to the Biden administration occurred on January 20, 2021 as envisioned in the Constitution, the Presidential Transition Index (PTI) team found that only 76 percent of transition provisions were fulfilled. Delays and uncertainty defined what was perhaps the most closely watched and politically fraught transition in modern United States history. Most of these disruptions stemmed from President Trump’s refusal to concede defeat, which caused a delay in one of the most critical aspects of a smooth transition–the General Services Administration’s (GSA) ascertainment of the election results, which in turn hindered the establishment of cooperative working relationships among outgoing and incoming staff across different agencies. This policy brief concludes that legal statutes alone do not guarantee a smooth transition. As outlined in the policy recommendations section, democratic norms need to be actively reinforced and incorporated into institutional designs to prevent future derailment of American democracy.


Attribute NameValues
Document Type
  • Report

  • Paul Friesen

  • Rachel Gagnon

  • Shadwa Ibrahim

  • William Kakenmaster

  • Maggie Shum

Date Created
  • 2021-01-21

  • Keough School of Global Affairs

  • American democracy

  • Biden

  • compliance

  • democratic norms

  • election

  • General Services Administration

  • GSA

  • presidential transitions

  • statutory provisions

  • Trump

  • United States

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  • All rights reserved

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