Although the new president will not take office until January 20, 2009, the Bush administration already is preparing for a smooth and orderly transition. The United States has had peaceful transitions for more than 200 years, which means the governmental institutions – and most of the employees who staff them – remain in place from one administration to the next.

In a recent e-mail to State Department employees, Secretary Rice said, “on November 4, the American people will exercise their right to choose their leaders. The ability freely to elect a government and the orderly transition of power from one administration to the next are the foundations of democracy. As the transition approaches, we must begin preparations for a seamless handover of our foreign policy to the new leadership.”

Rice said she has established a team to oversee the department’s transistion efforts. Despite the transition, the department’s goals remain the same. After November 4, the president-elect, whoever he is, will set up his own transition team to work with members of the outgoing administration to ensure an orderly transfer of power.

“Significant challenges remain before us in the months ahead, and we will continue to work diligently to promote America’s interests. We will depend on all Department employees to continue your hard work in promoting security, prosperity, and democracy around the world, while also preparing our new leadership for their roles,” Rice said.