Significant Change Is Always Hard
People tend to forget how much change occurs during a Presidential transition. There was plenty of tumult 8 years ago when power was transferred from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. Most of what is remembered from that period is the Great Recession and the financial bail-out. Likewise, 16 years ago, there was a lot of confusion when power was transferred from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush. But when we look back upon that time period, most of us primarily remember 9/11.
So, too, I believe the current transition looks messy when looked at day-by-day, but will mostly be forgotten by early next year when everything is in place: personnel, policies, priorities, and programs. We are just at the beginning now, but then the election was only 10 days ago.
In short, the macro items are being sorted out now. By all appearances, FDA is not a pressing issue on the level of deciding upon Cabinet Secretaries and determining the immediate legislative priorities of the new Administration. A transition team will be at the agency, soon if not already. They will be asking lots of questions and compiling the information needed for a smooth transition in January. Despite all the speculation, it is unlikely that key decisions about the agency will be made in the next month or so and most decisions will be made in the new year. Once transition reaches the micro level, things will move faster, but on par with the last transition 8 years ago.
The Alliance’s place in all of this is fairly simple, albeit not easy. By early next year, there will be new leaders in the Executive Branch (and also in Congress) and our job is to make sure that when they arrive they will hear about what the FDA does, why it is important, and how additional resources are needed for it to run well. Education starts now, as we make sure that the transition teams have a clear view of the agency’s mission and accomplishments.
We anticipate that one of our key messages — one we have used in the past — is that FDA plays a vital role in the economy and in job creation. The agency’s work in food and medical products makes it possible for commerce to flourish in these fields, enabling businesses that create well-paying jobs and are mostly net exporters. Another message will be that FDA is different from other federal regulatory agencies. Among other things, it is the only such agency whose work has the support of both consumers and industry. As we have a clearer picture of the new Administration’s priorities, we will develop additional messages that link FDA to goals they want to achieve.
Change is hard, whether it comes every 4 or 8 years. We hope that FDA and the entire FDA community will embrace this opportunity to make the agency’s case for more resources; just as we at the Alliance will be doing.