Continued from page 1

Mr. Ornstein said that a smooth transition “starts with the outgoing people and whether their attitude is resentment that they’re being forced to leave or that the other side won. Or there could be almost indifference.”

“I give Bush credit. It sure seems to me that he’s made a determination that making this work as well as possible is important for two reasons: This is a wartime transition and we really are in some danger here; and the second is that it becomes a part of his legacy.”

Officials with both presidential candidates declined to comment on the White House transition effort.

The transition council set up by the president and chaired by Mr. Bolten is focused on “preparing briefings for the president-elect’s team on significant pending policy issues as well as the structure of those agencies and offices,” the White House said.

“Our job is to make sure that there is minimal disruption in the services that government provides,” said Mr. Gottesman. “An easy way to look at it is to say, ‘If you were coming into government what would you want to know?’”