By Katy SteinmetzDec. 19, 2012
One of the less scintillating milestones of the 2012 election was marked by the General Services Administration, when Mitt Romney became the first candidate to take advantage of the Presidential Transition Act of 2010. The Act, spearheaded by former Sen. Ted Kaufman, provides resources for major candidates to start planning for their presidency long before Election Day. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, TIME acquired documents from the GSA that show the scope–and cost–of this unprecedented government-assisted transition.
In 2010, legislators said the main goal of the Act was to bolster national security by ensuring that candidates are prepared to take office, and that they don’t shy away from transition planning for fear that they’ll look presumptuous. To that end, the law stipulates that the federal government will provide certain resources to non-incumbent candidates after their nominating convention. The GSA says final costs are still being tabulated, but the initial estimated cost for Romney’s pre-transition phase is around $8.9 million.
The design, construction and space planning for the Romney team’s office space, which took up multiple floors in the Mary E. Switzer building a couple miles from the White House, cost about $2.5 million. The furniture bill came in around $740,000, and basics like office supplies cost about $30,000. The biggest chunk by far came from communications and related hardware. Items such as IT services, computer equipment and cell phones cost $5.6 million. The GSA noted that some of the resources would be recycled; Dell Latitude Laptops bought for Romney’s 500-strong transition team, for example, will be used by other parts of the federal government. Rent charges were waived by the GSA, as they traditionally are for transition teams during the President-Elect phase.