Clock is running on presidential transition effort
WASHINGTON (CNN) --The clock is running, and key elements of the presidential transition remain stalled.
Required FBI background checks of hundreds of key appointees can't begin because there's no official president-elect. Crucial jobs just below cabinet rank could go unfilled in the early days of a George W. Bush administration.
"The problem there is if you want to give direction to the bureaucracy to stop doing certain things or to start doing new things, you've got to have that neck in place to transfer the signals from the brain -- the president and the cabinet -- down to the career layer and the body," says Paul Light, an analyst with the Brookings Institution.
Appointments and FBI checks aren't much of an issue for Vice President Al Gore -- a Democratic administration is already in place. And if Gore emerges the winner, he could replace them -- or not -- at his leisure.
Another issue -- for Bush -- is access to information about last-minute federal regulations or enforcement actions he might want to stop.
"The departments and agencies will not accept you or embrace you until they're told that, in fact, there is a president-elect. So nothing can be done right now formally, and very little can be done informally by way of getting information about what agencies are or are not doing," says Light.
The Clinton administration says it will supply some information to both campaigns, although Bush won't be able to put his team members inside federal agencies just yet. The vice president, of course, is fully in the loop.
As for international policy and military matters, Gore is a member of the National Security Council and remains fully briefed. Bush will also continue to receive national security briefings as he did when he was a candidate.
A bigger potential problem could be the next federal budget. The new president has to submit one 14 days after taking office. Will here be time?
Alvin Felzenberg, an analyst with the Heritage Foundation, says yes.
"We're talking about fiscal year 2002," Felzenberg told CNN. "And preparations for that normally begin very, very early, and I suspect they're already under way now."
For the time being, logistics are only a minor issue. Neither Bush nor Gore can occupy the official transition office space in Washington or claim the $5.3 million in federal funds for the move into power.
But Gore already has a government office. And the Bush team will raise private money and rent their own.