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The GSA holds the keys to the Trump-to-Biden transition. What is GSA?

GSA full form - General Services Administration. GSA is an independent agency of the United States government established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies.

In the days after President-elect Joe Biden'sWhite House win, all eyes are on President Donald Trump's administration to ensure a smooth transfer of power.

The advisory board of the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition urged the Trump administration to "immediately begin the post-election transition process" – and that the Biden team "take full advantage of the resources available under the Presidential Transition Act" to prepare for addressing the country's needs.

But Trump has yet to concede to Biden, falsely claiming that the election was stolen. And the U.S. General Services Administration, a government agency key to Biden taking office in January, has not taken initial steps for transition – delaying millions of federal funding dollars and use of resources for the new administration.

The GSA is tasked with formally recognizing Biden as president-elect, which begins the transfer of power. But the agency's Trump-appointed administrator, Emily Murphy, has not started the process.

A spokesperson told Reuters that Murphy has not yet determined that “a winner is clear."

What is the GSA? How long has it been key to presidential transitions? Here's what you need to know.

Origins and roles of the GSA

The GSA was established by President Harry Truman in 1949, with the tasks of administering supplies and providing workplaces for federal employees.

The agency's original mission included storing government records, handling emergency preparedness and accumulating supplies for wartime.

"Today, our mission has evolved to provide stewardship of the way the government uses and provides real estate, acquisition services, and technology," the GSA writes on its website – adding that the agency now supplies workspace to more than 1 million federal workers, supervises the preservation of more than 480 historic buildings, and facilities the federal government's purchases of goods and services from commercial vendors.

What does this have to do with presidential transition?

The GSA has held a leading role in transfers of presidential power since 1963, with the initial passing of the Presidential Transition Act.

In short, the Presidential Transition Act requires the GSA to provide administrative support and office space to the president-elect and the incoming administration. Because of the growing need for transition steps to begin long before Election Day, the act also requires the GSA to supply support and workspace to major candidates in months leading up to the election.

According to the Center for Presidential Transition, "GSA also serves a liaison between transition teams and the federal government, helping, for example, to ensure that a president-elect’s 'beach-head' team is cleared to enter each agency and be on the job immediately after inauguration of the new president."

The GSA additionally supports outgoing presidents as they depart the White House.

What GSA, Biden admin are saying about presidential transfer of power

As of Monday, the GSA had yet to recognize Biden as the president-elect and take initial steps to prepare for his inauguration in January.

"An ascertainment has not yet been made," the agency stated Saturday. "GSA and its Administrator will continue to abide by, and fulfill, all requirements under the law."

But others warn of the dangers of delay.

“America’s national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signaling clearly and swiftly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power,” Jen Psaki, a Biden transition aide, tweeted Sunday.

The Center for Presidential Transition's advisory board pointed to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' need to start building "an effective government ready to address the urgent needs of our great country" – including the recruitment of 4,000 political appointees and preparation of a $4.7 trillion budget.

Biden and Harris "embraced transition planning early, recruited a seasoned and disciplined team and resourced their transition effort commensurate with the challenges that President-elect Biden will face on January 20," the advisory board wrote. "While there will be legal disputes requiring adjudication, the outcome is sufficiently clear that the transition process must now begin."

Source: USA Today

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