7–11 January 2019
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego,
San Diego, California

Presidential Transitions and How They Shake Things Up

Posted: 11 January 2017, 1:15 p.m. EST

Panelists: Moderator Ann Zulkosky, director, NASA Programs, Washington Operations, Lockheed Martin Space Systems; Russell Chew, senior adviser, NEXA Capital Partners; Henry "Trey" Obering III, executive vice president, Booz Allen Hamilton; Dorothy Robyn, independent consultant and writer, former commissioner, Public Building Service, General Services Administration, and former deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment; Courtney Stadd, Washington Operations, Business Development, TIP Technologies

by Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications

Presidential transitions really alter the aerospace landscape, bringing new people, new policies, new politics and new perspectives to Washington, D.C., a panel of experts said Jan. 11 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas.

The "Disruptive Policy Issues — Presidential Transitions" panel examined how presidential transitions shake things up, how those shake-ups happen and their overall impact on the industry. From missile defense policy to procurement policy to the importance of science and technology policy to climate change research, transitions impact numerous areas in the government, panelists said.

Courtney Stadd, with TIP Technologies' Washington operations and business development, said transitions are a combination of things, including principles, personnel, budget, bureaucracy and competing interests "with a leavening of black swans and gremlins."

Dorothy Robyn, an independent consultant and writer as well as former commissioner of Public Buildings Service with the U.S. General Services Administration, said that unlike most western democracies, the United States does not have a " shadow government that has functioned as the loyal opposition" forcing a new leader to hire thousands — meaning that change in the U.S. can be a real departure from past practices.

The panelists examined how transitions affect various parts of the government. Russel Chew, a senior adviser with NEXA Capital Partners and former chief operating officer of the FAA, said some agencies don't immediately feel effects of the transition.

PresidentialTransitionsPanel-SciTech2017Participants in the panel discussion, "Disruptive Policy Issues — Presidential Transitions," Jan. 11 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum, in Grapevine, Texas.

"It can take up to a year for policy shifts and budget priorities to trickle down to them," he said.

Chew said for example, given the way the budget process works, agencies likely won't feel the first real budget impacts from the new administration until 2019.

When it comes to the current presidential transition, panelists said President-elect Donald Trump will bring his own style of management to the White House. Robyn said it will be less centralized than the Obama administration and will rely more on delegation.

"Trump believes that people who can run businesses can reshape the government, and he's bringing a team of rivals approach — bringing in people who do not agree with each other," she said.

Panelists also agreed Trump's policies will diverge from the Obama administration's in areas like global warming. Henry "Trey" Obering III, an executive vice president with Booz Allen Hamilton, said it's "doubtful" the Trump administration's Department of Defense will make climate change its No. 1 threat.

As for the impact of the Trump administration on aerospace policy, panelists said aerospace will see growth, especially on the defense side. Obering predicted greater support for missile defense.

"It's a period of delicious chaos ... it’s like a combination of the first day of school and the French revolution," Robyn said of presidential transitions. "It's a very interesting period of time."

Return to 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum Headlines

Return to 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum Home

2017 AIAA SciTech Forum Livestream Channel

FAQsContact UsPoliciesMedia