Obama has employed over 500 staffers to assist in his transition operations — working from a nondescript office building in downtown Washington and from locations in his hometown of Chicago.
His transition team has received a budget of $12 million — $5.2 million of which was allocated by Congress, and the rest from private donations of under $5,000.
As president-elect, Obama is also given the same highly classified intelligence briefings that President Bush receives on a daily basis. And Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden get full Secret Service protection, which Obama also received during the Democratic primaries and general election campaign.
But the “Office of the President-Elect,” while critical in building the future government, has no official power — which Obama himself acknowledged during his victory speech in Chicago on Election Night.
“It is an office — it’s just a quasi-government office for planning the takeover of the government,” said Stephen J. Wayne, a professor at Georgetown University’s department of government.
“Obama has no formal power as far as the existing government is concerned, but he has a lot of informal influence, which President Bush has encouraged,” he added.
Wayne compared the function of the “Office of the President-Elect” to spring training in baseball. “It doesn’t count in the standings, but it does contribute to a team’s ability to do well from day one,” he said.