Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russell Vought pushed back strongly Dec. 31 on claims by President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team that OMB is dragging its feet on providing required assistance to the transition team.

In a Dec. 31 letter to former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, who is one of several co-chairs of the transition team, Vought said he was writing to “correct several false statements” that the transition team made about OMB cooperation in the transition process.

Vought’s letter followed remarks by President-elect Biden on Dec. 28 that complained in particular about a lack of transition cooperation from the Defense Department and OMB.

“We have encountered significant roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget,” Biden said. “Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas . . . It is nothing short of irresponsible,” Biden continued.

Yohannes Abraham, the transition team’s executive director, also was quoted in Dec. 30 press reports as saying that OMB’s refusal to “fully cooperate” with the transition team hurts the incoming administration’s efforts to maximize COVID-19 relief efforts.

Vought said that OMB has cooperated extensively with the Biden transition team in providing information and access to agency officials, including taking 45 meetings with the transition team since Nov. 23, apportioning $9.9 million in transition funding, and providing “all information requested from OMB about ongoing programs.”

On the COVID-19 front, Vought told Kaufman, “your team has been briefed by OMB, as well as the relevant agencies, on Operation Warp Speed and other COVID relief efforts, including the various funding streams in use for these efforts.” He continued, “Furthermore, there is record of your team accessing these critical documents just last week.”

More generally, the OMB Director stressed that the transition team needs to do its own work in developing Biden administration policies and that OMB will continue to work on Trump administration policy implementation while President Trump remains in office.

“As the record shows, OMB has fully participated in appropriate transition efforts,” Vought said. “What we have not done and will not do is use current OMB staff to write the [Biden Transition Team’s] legislative policy proposals to dismantle this Administration’s work.”

“OMB staff are working on this Administration’s policies and will do so until this Administration’s final day in office,” Vought said. “Redirecting staff and resources to draft your team’s budget proposals is not an OMB transition responsibility. Our system of government has one President and one Administration at a time. OMB will not participate in developing policies that will weaken border security, dismantle the President’s deregulatory successes, and draft budgets that will bankrupt America,” he said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.