The Washington Times - October 9, 2008, 12:47PM

President Bush on Thursday signed an executive order authorizing top White House officials to begin meeting formally to plan a smooth hand over of power to the next administration.

The White House said their transition effort is “unprecedented” and is “especially important” at this moment in the nation’s history.


“Our nation is fighting a war, dealing with a financial crisis, and working to protect ourselves from future terrorist attacks,” said White House press secretary Dana Perino.

The presidential transition coordinating council will be chaired by White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and will hold its first meeting next Wednesday.

The White House has been meeting with representatives from the McCain and Obama campaigns since the summer, and has “worked to facilitate security clearances for key transitional personnel from both teams,” Mrs. Perino said.

“Throughout our discussion and efforts, I would characterize the two candidates’ transition teams as being very cooperative in spirit and tone,” Mrs. Perino said. “Each candidate’s designees have been treated equitably. All information that is shared with one is shared with the other and at the same time. This is not about politics. This is about doing the very best for our nation.”   

The president’s order expires on Feb. 20, 2009.