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GSA Won’t Open Transition Office

November 27, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The federal government’s housekeeping agency says it won’t release $5.3 million to help the next president prepare for office until the challenges to the election are resolved.

Although Florida’s statewide canvassing board certified Texas Gov. George W. Bush the winner of its 25 electoral votes and, therefore, the presidency, Vice President Al Gore’s plans to contest the election place the outcome in enough doubt to keep the transition office closed, said Beth Newburger, spokeswoman for the General Services Administration.

``As long as both sides are still going to court, and both sides say they are, we believe that the outcome remains unclear,″ Newburger said Sunday.

As required by law, GSA set up a transition office complete with computers and telephones and stood ready to turn over the keys _ and the bank account _ to either Bush or Gore the morning after Election Day. But the recounting and legal battles, which are now likely to intensify, kept the door locked.

Newburger said GSA Administrator David J. Barram is ``authorized by law to ascertain _ that is what the law says _ the apparent winner, and authorize the transfer of funds to begin the inauguration.″

``As long as there is not an apparent winner, and the outcome is unclear, there’s not much we can do,″ she said.

The law does not say what criteria Barram should use.

Under the Constitution, the next president will be sworn in Jan. 20, possibly leaving scant time to begin making some 6,000 appointments.

Bush, speaking in Texas after the Florida certification that declared him president-elect, named a chief of staff and asked his vice presidential nominee, Dick Cheney ``to work with President Clinton’s administration to open a transition office in Washington. And we look forward to a constructive working relationship throughout this transition.″

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