The government will wait until after Al Gore’s concession speech to turn over $5.3 million in taxpayer money and an office to help George W. Bush plan his administration, officials said today.
“I want to respect both candidates’ desire to speak to the country tonight before I make any decision about transition space and funds,” said David J. Barram, administrator of the General Services Administration. The GSA is charged with aiding the presidential transition.
Noting that Mr. Gore had scheduled an address to the nation tonight, Mr. Barram said in his statement, “We have been working with both campaigns so that we are prepared to move quickly.”
He gave no details about how soon the federal aid might be turned over.
Locked out of the taxpayer-funded office space, Mr. Bush’s transition planners raised private donations to pay for their own office in suburban McLean, Va. It opened Nov. 30.
It’s too soon to say whether the Bush team would move to the Washington office once it gets the keys, said spokeswoman Juleanna Glover Weiss. She had no response to the GSA’s decision to wait.
The Virginia office is just minutes from the home of Bush’s running mate and transition chief, Dick Cheney, and also near several hotels for staff. A briefing room was set up, and more desks and chairs arrived yesterday.
The transition team already has accumulated almost 21,000 resumes from people seeking some 6,000 administration jobs, from Cabinet secretary to office secretary.
Under a law granting money and support staff to help the president-elect prepare, the GSA leased 90,000 square feet in a private office building near the White House and filled it with desks, computers and phones ready for use the day after the election.
But the agency declined to turn over the keys to Mr. Bush, or Mr. Gore, while election results were in dispute.
Some congressional Republicans complained for weeks that the Clinton administration was unfairly hindering Mr. Bush by withholding the money. But GSA officials maintained they could not legally release taxpayer money, or the office keys, because the winner was not yet apparent.