By CONNIE CASS
WASHINGTON – The government is marching along toward a Jan. 20 handoff of presidential power, even though two men are reaching for the baton.
From the CIA to inaugural parade planners, federal agencies must prepare for the transition without knowing whether George W. Bush or Al Gore will come out on top. The White House calls it moving along “parallel tracks.”
In some cases, it’s more like hurry up and wait.
“We’re kind of in limbo here,” Navy Cmdr. Joe Delcambre, a spokesman for the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, said Wednesday.
By now, the committee should be advising the president-elect’s team on choice sites for inaugural balls and how to choose marching bands.
Instead, they are drawing up contingency plans to help whichever side ends up planning the festivities at double-time pace. Neither candidate has contacted them yet, Delcambre said.
Bush and Gore are setting up competing transition teams, complete with potential Cabinet secretaries.
Gore met at the White House on Wednesday with his transition director, Roy Neel, and two likely choices for prominent posts – Alexis Herman, currently the labor secretary, and Kathleen McGinty.
Bush planned to talk with retired Gen. Colin Powell, his likely pick for secretary of state, at his Texas ranch tooday.
The Texas governor also set up a transition office with a growing staff in suburban McLean, Va. GOP running mate Dick Cheney issued a public call Wednesday for donations to pay for it.
White House chief of staff John Podesta has contacted both the Bush and Gore camps to arrange meetings, said press secretary Jake Siewert.
“Given the unusual situation we’re in … we’re proceeding on parallel tracks now, as much as possible, in terms of intelligence briefings, in terms of giving both teams an opportunity to hear where we are and what we’re doing,” Siewert said.
Some government offices catering to twin transitions three weeks after Election Day:
The GSA is under fire from Republicans for refusing to hand over the office keys and $5.3 million after Florida certified Bush as the winner last Sunday. GSA officials say they can’t release the taxpayer money while the election is tied up in court.
It’s important for an incoming president to make early choices for key White House and Cabinet positions because putting them in place can take months. Those people are subject to FBI background checks, reviews of their finances and ethics scrutiny. Cabinet secretaries and their top aides also must wait for separate Senate investigations and confirmation.
Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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