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President-elect Biden forms transportation transition team

Nov. 17, 2020
The group, led by the L.A. Metro CEO, is working informally on the DOT transition as the Biden-Harris team awaits the federal government’s election certification, which would allow the incoming administration to work directly with the current one.

The Biden-Harris Transition Team created an 18-member panel to review the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other related U.S. agencies to help prepare the incoming administration before taking over the federal government Jan. 20, 2021.

Phillip A. Washington, CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (L.A. Metro), was tapped by President-elect Joe Biden to lead the transportation agency review team. Along with the U.S. DOT, Washington’s team will review the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), National Railroad Passenger Corporation — which operates Amtrak — and the Federal Maritime Commission.

Other members of Biden’s transportation team include Polly Trottenberg, the New York City transportation commissioner who also served as a transportation policy adviser in the Obama Administration; Brendan Danaher of the Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO; and David Cameron, an assistant director at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Despite the federal General Services Administration (GSA) not yet certifying Biden as the 2020 U.S. presidential election winner — even though he leads vote counts in more than enough states to win the Electoral College — the Democrat’s transition team is finding informal ways to set up its eventual government. 

Once the GSA administrator ascertains the election results, it launches the official transition process, which frees up money for Biden’s team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies. While President Donald Trump has refused to concede the race, all states must certify their election results by Dec. 8, so the Electoral College can cast its votes on Dec. 14. That is one of the final federal steps of presidential certification before the new Congress officially counts those votes on Jan. 6, two weeks before Inauguration Day. 

Until that certification comes, the 40 agency review teams are meeting with former agency officials and experts who closely follow federal agencies, according to the Biden-Harris transition team. The groups are also seeking out officials from think tanks, labor groups, trade associations and other non-governmental organizations. The transition team also notes that many review teams are staffed with members who have previously worked in the federal government. 

Among the trade groups looking to work with the incoming Biden-Harris team is the American Trucking Associations, which sees infrastructure investment as a big opportunity for the next president.

“As the Biden Administration rolls up its sleeves and begins the heavy lift of rebuilding America’s ailing infrastructure, it will find a constructive partner in ATA,” Chris Spear, the ATA president and CEO, said when he congratulated Biden on his election victory on Nov. 7. “We stand ready, willing and able to get the job done.”

Once the GSA administrator ascertains the election results, the review teams would begin working directly with federal agencies on the formal Biden-Harris transition. 

“Our nation is grappling with a pandemic, an economic crisis, urgent calls for racial justice, and the existential threat of climate change,” said former U.S. Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), co-chairman of the Biden-Harris Transition. “We must be prepared for a seamless transfer of knowledge to the incoming administration to protect our interests at home and abroad. The agency review process will help lay the foundation for meeting these challenges on Day One. The work of the agency review teams is critical for protecting national security, addressing the ongoing public health crisis, and demonstrating that America remains the beacon of democracy for the world.”

The Presidential Transition Act requires transition teams to disclose members’ most recent employment and any funding source for the members. All 18 members of the transportation transition team are listed as volunteers, which means they are not paid for this work and serve in a personal capacity. Here are the members:

  • Team leader Phillip Washington, L.A. Metro
  • Dave Barnett, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters of the US and Canada
    • Austin Brown, University of California, Davis
      • David Cameron, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
        • Florence Chen, Generate
          • Brendan Danaher, Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO
            • Paul Kincaid, The Association of Former Members of Congress
              • Gabe Klein, Cityfi
                • Jeff Marootian, District Department of Transportation
                  • Therese McMillan, Metropolitan Transportation Commission
                    • Brad Mims, Conference of Minority Transportation Officials
                      • Robert Molofsky, Self-employed
                        • Patty Monahan, California Energy Commission
                          • Mario Rodriguez, Indianapolis Airport Authority
                            • Mike Rodriguez, Texas A&M University System (Retired)
                              • Nairi Tashjian Hourdajian, Figma
                                • Polly Trottenberg, New York City Department of Transportation
                                  • Vinn White, State of New Jersey
                                    About the Author

                                    Josh Fisher | Editor-in-Chief

                                    Editor-in-Chief Josh Fisher has been with FleetOwner since 2017, covering everything from modern fleet management to operational efficiency, artificial intelligence, autonomous trucking, regulations, and emerging transportation technology. He is based in Maryland. 

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