The Cost of Romney’s Government-Assisted Transition: $8.9 Million

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One of the less scintillating milestones of the 2012 election was marked by the General Services Administration, when Mitt Romney became the first candidate to take advantage of the Presidential Transition Act of 2010. The Act, spearheaded by former Sen. Ted Kaufman, provides resources for major candidates to start planning for their presidency long before Election Day. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, TIME acquired documents from the GSA that show the scope–and cost–of this unprecedented government-assisted transition.

In 2010, legislators said the main goal of the Act was to bolster national security by ensuring that candidates are prepared to take office, and that they don’t shy away from transition planning for fear that they’ll look presumptuous. To that end, the law stipulates that the federal government will provide certain resources to non-incumbent candidates after their nominating convention. The GSA says final costs are still being tabulated, but the initial estimated cost for Romney’s pre-transition phase is around $8.9 million.

(MORE: Planning a Presidency That Never Was: Inside Romney’s Transition Team)

The design, construction and space planning for the Romney team’s office space, which took up multiple floors in the Mary E. Switzer building a couple miles from the White House, cost about $2.5 million. The furniture bill came in around $740,000, and basics like office supplies cost about $30,000. The biggest chunk by far came from communications and related hardware. Items such as IT services, computer equipment and cell phones cost $5.6 million. The GSA noted that some of the resources would be recycled; Dell Latitude Laptops bought for Romney’s 500-strong transition team, for example, will be used by other parts of the federal government. Rent charges were waived by the GSA, as they traditionally are for transition teams during the President-Elect phase.

Romney’s “readiness” team crafted a 16-page “Memorandum of Understanding” with the GSA. It outlines what would and wouldn’t be provided during the “pre-election” phase (and the official “transition” that they didn’t get to). The GSA would pay for Android cell phones for the Romney staff, but they would not pay salaries. The GSA would set up a secure network for the workers, complete with “ptt.gov” email addresses, but they would not pay for utility costs after 5 p.m. Led by former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, Romney’s pre-transition team used a separate 501(c)4-like fund for readiness-related expenses; donations to that fund were capped at $5,000, the same maximum an individual can give to a standard political action committee in a calendar year.

The campaign and GSA officials had started meeting about the transition by early June, before Romney was the official nominee but after his primary victory became clear. The Act stipulates that the GSA must act in a completely non-partisan manner when providing services. And the government administrators got along just fine with Romney’s team, according to Leavitt. On Nov. 7, GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini wrote a final letter to Gov. Romney, saying the GSA had been “honored” to work with his staff–and making it clear that it was time to begin “closeout procedures.”

117 comments
jag0581
jag0581

I for one have no problem with a candidate being given resources to plan a possible transition so if they win the election they can have a head start transitioning but 8.9B seems to be a bit much when it comes to a pre-election transition.  What needs to happen is it needs to change to allow for $5B in pre-election transition costs.


It also has been mentioned by people that the taxpayers are footing the bill for inaugural parties for someone who is already President.  In reality the President is being inaugurated at the taxpayer expense just like all Presidents no matter what, the inaugural balls that the President attends that evening are not at the taxpayers expense but is completed off of donations by the President-Elects Inaugural committee.  


It also is mentioned that the tax payers pay for President Obama's vacations in Hawaii, but what people fail to understand is that the only reason President Obama's Hawaii vacation is so much is because he originally lives in Chicago where his family mostly lives in Hawaii therefore he spends the time with his family in Hawaii.  Also what people fail to understand that is President Obama technically doesn't get a vacation at all.  Most people who take a vacation go and relax somewhere where they don't think about and don't conduct business.  However the President doesn't have that, when he goes on a vacation while he might not hold meetings everyday and make policy decisions every waking moment, if something happens that need his attention he goes right to work holding meetings and what not.  He is always working which means his is really not taking a vacation at all because he has to be working at all times.  President Bush was on vacation so much in his first term I think his calculated time on vacation was on average of 2-3 years in a four year term.  All Presidents deserve to have a vacation or some down time.  But did anyone also know that the President when he travels on Air Force One for any event or anything that is not actually Presidential travel has to be repaid by the President's money.  Why do you think during the campaign there was always like one poitical Presidential stop on all trips?  It is because as long as the President is traveling "on official business" the government pays for the travel.  


I just have one question for these people who are not happy with Obama's spending, were you also unhappy when President Bush took a huge surplus and turned it into huge deficits?  Were you complaining when President Bush went on vacation all the time?

FrankL.Bennett
FrankL.Bennett

And the UN is going to come over the border to take over world domination. You can find anything you want in certain extreme newspapers or Blogs.  The GOP is so concerned about spending  by Obama but it's okay if it's by them. Like Cheney said the national debit didn't matter. That was when they were in office but now it matters.  Some people seem to forget what the GOP did in office or their failed policies and ready to try them again.  9 million is 9 million.  Like the investment brokers tell us, start saving if it's only $5.00 a month.

rightused2bmainstream
rightused2bmainstream

And Romney would have won the presidency had it not been for all the Dem voter fraud, which is why half the world was shocked when he wasn't announced the winner.      According to the Columbus Dispatch, one out of every five registered voters in Ohio is ineligible to vote. In at least two counties in Ohio, the number of registered voters exceeded the number of eligible adults who are of voting age. In northwestern Ohio's Wood County, there are 109 registered voters for every 100 people eligible to vote. An additional 31 of Ohio's 88 counties have voter registration rates over 90%, which most voting experts regard as suspicious. Obama miraculously won 100% of the vote in 21 districts in Cleveland, and received over 99% of the vote where GOP inspectors were illegally removed.  The inflated numbers can't just reflect voters who have moved, because the average voting registration level nationwide is only 70%. The vast majority of voters over the 70% level are not voting because they want to, they are voting because someone is getting them to cast a vote, one way or another. Those 31 counties are most likely the largest counties in Ohio, representing a majority of Ohio voters. This means the number of votes cast above the 70% typical voter registration level easily tops 100,000, the margin Obama won Ohio by.   

http://townhall.com/columnists/rachelalexander/2012/11/11/obama_likely_won_reelection_through_election_fraud/page/full/   http://www.wnd.com/2012/11/the-big-list-of-vote-fraud-reports/


dawnowens
dawnowens

And Mr Quarter of a Billionaire will be writing the checks to cover this, right? 

Maddie
Maddie

What a smart man...just think we could be the benefactors of his business management skills today!  Obama spent his first term spending like a kid in a candy store, he's in Hawaii and we all paid for his re-election.  What a hypocritical article....leave the man alone - he lost.

CCPony
CCPony

* LAUGHING ! ! ! ! *  Ohhhh!  This is f-ing GREAT!  TIME publishes an article over a measly 8.9 million in government waste and points its stinkin' little finger at Romney!  Imagine that! An article about GOVERNMENT WASTE IN THE ERA OF OBAMA and this silly, stupid, biased rag talks about Romney!!!!

Oh, the humanity!!

GregSinglerJr.
GregSinglerJr.

It doesnt matter whether the actual transition took place.  The whole bill and the reason for the funding is in anticipation of a transition.  So just because Obama's transition took place and Romney's did not means that Romney is a horrible human being and stealing money from the America people.  Last time I checked the 2 to 3 month transition funds that Romney got for the GSA was as much as a 2 of our dear leader's Hawaiian vacations.  So if all of you on the left want to make a big deal about this, but not make a big deal of how many elaborate and expensive vacations our dear leader made just in his first term, I call you HYPOCRITES.

PeterCarreiro
PeterCarreiro

Gee, let's see.... isn't that less than the cost of Obama's Christmas vacation??? Why yes!!!! It is. 

tomo
tomo

Ouch: Another wrongheaded piece of legislation.  Romney cost the government money that could be used elsewhere.  While I agree that the incoming President should receive something, a few months out?  Romney lost and those costa should be repaid by his campaign.  Heck, he could write a personal check, because he receives much more than that in his interest and dividends off of  all those overseas accounts.

CarenMcDougall-Martinez
CarenMcDougall-Martinez

Aren't  the Obamas packed and ready to spend 4 million dollars again on an Hawaiian vacation?

jtdaugherty1
jtdaugherty1

The current President uses public funds for everything.  Quite crying about the oppostion getting a small piece of public funds to attempt leveling the playing field.

PeggyTrivilino
PeggyTrivilino

Hold the fort!  The American taxpayer paid almost three-quarters of a million bucks for FURNITURE?  Where'd they buy it--Versailles?  Mitt Romney's spending habits make the proverbial drunken sailor look like a piker.  Btw, what happens to the furniture now--does it go to some upscale consignment store?  Oh well, what else can we expect from a man who casually places $10,000 bets?

ROBBIECEE1
ROBBIECEE1

OK- let me ask. Why are we using government funds for this! If the candidates want to run, then let them raise the money and run!

TomMiller1
TomMiller1

You'll never get through to the Rush Limbaugh nut juice guzzlers.....They are all puppets !  Bush could do NO wrong but Obama does everything wrong ! Amazing ,huh?   LOL!

TomMiller1
TomMiller1

Did you ever look at Nate Silver's predictions weeks before the election?  He got 50 out of 50 states correct as to who would win each state......... Long before the voters voted....Your taking your bogus numbers off of a Republican website and no facts to back it up. NONE!

TomMiller1
TomMiller1

But as we now well know Obama didnt need Ohio  or Florida. to win........So your statement is your opinion only and false as well.....turn off FOX news and get the real facts......

GregSinglerJr.
GregSinglerJr.

In comparison it only cost England 50 something million to take care of the entire Royal Family...4 people versus tens of people, not sure exactly how many, but way more than the first family.  If you people are cool with how this president is acting during a time of great hardship, I dare say, for a majority of the America public, then that is fine with me.  Please, by all means give him your money, cause I am sick of the government taking half of what I make for ridiculous acts of grandeur and celebrity.  

GregSinglerJr.
GregSinglerJr.

Oh yeah it cost the American taxpayer 8.4 Billion dollars to take care of the first family just last year alone...let's talk dollars and common sense....get some...stay ignorant my friends!

tomo
tomo

Have you checked the time machine: Obama won (twice now.)

jmlambion
jmlambion

@CarenMcDougall-Martinez 

$12 include the 3 months after the election and before the inauguration. If Romney spent almost $9 million before the election, how much more would he have spent in the 3 months after the election, had he won?

kevinwestmoreland27
kevinwestmoreland27

But it happened!!  Aren't losing sight of what this article is really speaking about.

tomo
tomo

Pure Obama hate!

Maddie
Maddie

@PeggyTrivilino Too long to blame Bush now huh?  Gotta point the finger at Romney?  Why don't you join the bamas in Haiwaii.  What do Michelle's little shopping trips to Spain cost - complete with secret service?  And nobody is talking about the fact that bamer golfs more than his predecessors. combined.

HerbetLargeone
HerbetLargeone

@PeggyTrivilino   Where are you coming from-Michelle Obama spent 10 million dollars on trips and vacations of taxpayer money in stupidbamas first term

jtdaugherty1
jtdaugherty1

Very bias considering far more is spent by the President on unnecessary things.  $10,000 bets???  Are you still campaigning against Mitt Romney?  News flash.  He lost.

themom2
themom2

@PeggyTrivilino how about all those vaca's the 'lil mrs.up there in the Big House gets to take on the taxpayer's dole, huh? And oh yea, then there's that small invoice to us middle class folks to pay for the 'lil mr. up there ALREADY in the Big House to have a party to inaugurate (verb: 1. Begin or introduce [a system, polic or period], 2. Admit (someone) formally to public office) him into an office he already holds! BTW, the furnature gets trashed or is pilfered by the federal employees for their own personal use.  You don't seriously think this administration would recycle!

eagle17765
eagle17765

@wirenut1037 You fail reading. Romney used the Presidential Transition Act of 2010.  Notice the date, 2010 ... thus impossible for Obama to use that same Legislation in 2008.

Jonah
Jonah

@wirenut1037 "Mitt Romney became the first candidate to take advantage of the Presidential Transition Act of 2010."

what part of that didn't you understand. Winger.

BlueJoubert
BlueJoubert

@wirenut1037 Do TeaPublicans have anything other than false equivalencies to debate with? Did you notice that Romney began his 'transition' in JUNE? He needs to pay this money back. He was so accustomed to getting his way, it never, ever occured to him that he might lose. After all, in The World According to Ann Romney it was their 'turn.' Egomaniacal losers.

emoreirab
emoreirab

Yes, but that was after he was elected and not before!

KenReibel
KenReibel

@GregSinglerJr. -  A five - minute Google search tells me the annual costs associated with the First Family total about $1.5 billion. You are off by more than a factor of five. And the cost is about the same as it was in 2008 - when Dubya was Prez.

 Stay ignorant, my friends.  :-)


jtdaugherty1
jtdaugherty1

Less than President Obama spent on his short Hawaii vacation.  Maybe that's a guess...  I'm sure he wouldn't spend $4 million in a couple of weeks.  At least the policies of Romney would pay for the money he spent.  Or would they? 

tomo
tomo

Name calling has place in public discourse, which these response lines are.  Who is stupid?

PeggyTrivilino
PeggyTrivilino

@themom2 @PeggyTrivilino Your response betrays a profound and irrational ignorance of numerous well-known facts.  However, even that deficiency is thoroughly eclipsed by your inability to spell "furniture".

jtdaugherty1
jtdaugherty1

http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/103159

Presidential Transition Act started in 1963.  President Elect Obama used some form of the Presidential Transition Act (2000 version) to fund his original expenses as well; which is a blank check just like 2010.  The link to this good intentioned act is above.  Due to private interest groups who are decisive in elections, I don't see why the Presidential Transition Act is not repealed.

jtdaugherty1
jtdaugherty1

I'm sure that all candidates will use/abuse it however they choose whether Republican or Democrat from 2010 forward.

jtdaugherty1
jtdaugherty1

Show me a source.  Doubtful that a senator who didn't have a huge bank account could compete without help.

CarenMcDougall-Martinez
CarenMcDougall-Martinez

@tomo No, he signed up for the job.  He was AWOL for 3.5 years,and again like a drug dealer ginned up his base ,called repubs liars and of course the media,like Time fueled the fire. ANd here we are again, nowhere fast.

GregSinglerJr.
GregSinglerJr.

@tomo 75% of Obama's cabinet didn't receive any sort of communication from the president in his whole first term...he kept his close inner circle and that was it...I do remember when the attack on the Libyan ambassador was going on, he went to bed...not important enough to disturb his beauty sleep!  Stay naive my friends!

GregSinglerJr.
GregSinglerJr.

@jmlambion @jtdaugherty1 No we are saying that going to your home in Texas is different than renting out a whole 5 star hotel, or the majority of one, in Hawaii....come one man!

lundmarkk
lundmarkk

I kinda remember Democrats supporting Bush during his vacations just as much.

tomo
tomo

This is pure Obama hate!

tomo
tomo

So the President is not entitled to any down time.  President is on a 24 hour clock.  He is in constant communication with important staff members, some of whom trave with him and cabinet level people. Your hate for Obama shows when you write these kinds of things.

jtdaugherty1
jtdaugherty1

@jmlambion

Penalizing.  $4 million is excessive.  $200 thousand for the personal jet plane to go back and forth, and $3.8 million for what?  Movie stars don't spend that and they have more to fear in many circles....  You are rationallizing a week vacation that is more than most people will see in their entire lifetime.  You are complaining about Mitt spending $9 million in three months.  How can you not be upset about the President spending almost half that in a week?  Mitt was doing a job; the President is taking a vacation.

jmlambion
jmlambion

@jtdaugherty1 

When the President takes a vacation, the Office of the Presidency goes with him. Doesn't matter if he is chopping brush in Texas are riding horses in California. Are we now penalizing the President because his extended family lives further away than Texas or California?

tomo
tomo

Shouldd read 'no place.'

jtdaugherty1
jtdaugherty1

Semantics.  You are ridiculing anyone with a different viewpoint for not staying on point while pointing out verbal mistakes.  Why don't you focus on the main idea here too?  Government spends far too much.  I didn't capitalize Senator either btw or is that 'by the way'???

emoreirab
emoreirab

Go to the same link you provided and read the question:

Q: How is President-elect Obama paying for his transition?

President-elect (according to the Oxford dictionary): a person who has been elected president but has not yet taken up office.

Got it?

jtdaugherty1
jtdaugherty1

K guys.  New legislation.  I'm sure if he were poor this article wouldn't get any buzz.  That is what a wealthy man has to deal with in the eyes of the public.  Guess it's a fair factual article that makes a decent person look bad for spending public funds when the incumbant does it more than any previous President ever has.