General Services Administration Administrator Delays Start of Presidential Transition Process

GSA Emily Murphy, official portrait obtained from

Despite major media outlets declaring Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election, the current General Services Administrator, Emily Murphy, refuses to say Biden is the winner of the election, thus delaying the presidential transition process.

According to the 1963 Presidential Transition Act, the General Services Administrator, or GSA, must determine the winner of the presidential election before the transition process can begin. With Murphy declining to say Biden won the election, there are significant consequences for Biden’s transition to the presidency. Without the GSA declaring him the winner, Biden will not yet have access to office space and the ability to coordinate with federal agencies about policy changes, which are present in the official transition process. 

“I think it’s ridiculous because … Biden won through the electoral college and majority vote,” Junior Caroline Richard said about the situation. “It’s not whether you believe it [Biden’s victory] or not, it’s whether you understand it.”

With the formal transition process unable to begin, the Biden team will also not be allowed access to internal government information, including national security matters and the plan for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine. This shortened transition process can have significant effects on national security. In 2000, the presidential transition did not begin until several weeks after the election because of court battles over the Florida recount. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, this shortened amount of transition time factored into the country’s unpreparedness for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

The reasoning for the GSA’s refusal to determine Biden as the winner has to do with President Donald Trump’s ongoing legal battles relating to the election. Trump has not conceded to Biden yet, and he has several ongoing court battles in an effort to overturn the results. 

Richard believes the presidential transition should begin immediately, adding, “I don’t think that she [Murphy] should be allowed to … not let him [Biden] start his job.”

Virginia senators Tim Kaine (D) and Mark Warner (D) sent a letter to General Services Administration Administrator Murphy calling on the administration to begin the presidential transition process. They write that the GSA is authorized to support the transition process by providing a variety of services, including office space, access to government computer systems, and funding. 

“The General Services Administration Administrator is authorized to provide the President-elect and the Vice President-elect with a variety of services supporting the transition into their new official capacities,” the senators wrote in the letter. “Moreover, an orderly and peaceful transition process is critical as the country continues to grapple with the loss and far-reaching impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.”