US President-elect Joe Biden has appointed over 20 Indian-Americans as members to his transition team. Out of these, three Indian-Americans have been elected as team leads to his agency review teams (ARTs).
These teams are responsible for assessing and understanding the operations of key federal agencies in the current administration to ensure fluid transition of power, and prepare President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as well as their cabinet, to hit the ground running on Day One.
This is one of the most diverse agency review teams in presidential changeover history, according Biden's transition team. Of the hundreds of ART members, over half are women, and around 40 per cent represent communities that have been historically underrepresented in the federal government, comprising people of colour, those who identify as LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities.
Arun Majumdar from the prestigious Stanford University is the team lead for the Department of Energy ART. Rahul Gupta is the team lead for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Kiran Ahuja has been named Team Lead for the Office of Personnel Management. Puneet Talwar has been named to the Department of State ART. Pav Singh has been named to two ARTs for the National Security Council and Office of Science and Technology.
Similarly, Arun Venkatraman has been named to two ARTs, the Department of Commerce and United States Trade Representative (USTR).
Other prominent Indian Americans named to ARTs are Pravina Raghavan, Atman Trivedi for Department of Commerce and Shital Shah for Department of Education; R Ramesh and Rama Zakaria for the Department of Energy; Subhasri Ramanathan for the Department of Homeland Security; Raj De for Department of Justice; and Seema Nanda and Raj Nayak for Department of Labour.
Reena Aggarwal, and Satyam Khanna have been named to the Federal Reserve, Banking and Securities Regulators ARTs; Bhavya Lal for NASA; Dilpreet Sidhu for National Security Council, Divya Kumaraiah for Office of Management and Budget; Kumar Chandran for Department of Agriculture; and Aneesh Chopra to US Postal Service. Almost all of them are volunteers.
These teams are composed of highly experienced and talented professionals with deep backgrounds in crucial policy areas across the federal government.
"Our nation is grappling with a pandemic, an economic crisis, urgent calls for racial justice, and the existential threat of climate change. We must be prepared for a seamless transfer of knowledge to the incoming administration to protect our interests at home and abroad. The agency review process will help lay the foundation for meeting these challenges on Day One," said Senator Ted Kaufman, Co-Chair, Biden-Harris Transition.
"The work of the agency review teams is critical for protecting national security, addressing the ongoing public health crisis, and demonstrating that America remains the beacon of democracy for the world," he added.
The transition team announced the agency review teams even as outgoing President Donald Trump's administration is yet to formally recognise Biden as the president-elect.
A formal recognition from the General Services Administration is needed to allow transition staff access to federal workers and much of the information they will need.
Trump, a Republican, has declined to concede the closely-fought November 3 presidential race to Democrat Biden and is mounting legal fights in several key battleground states alleging voter irregularities or widespread fraud in the election -- billed as one of the most divisive and bitter in recent American history.
President Trump has made repeated and baseless claims that the Democratic Party has tried to steal the election.
Once the GSA Administrator ascertains the results of the election, the ART members will work directly with staff in federal agencies to ensure that the incoming Biden-Harris administration is able to effectively achieve the policy goals of the President and Vice President-elect.
The ARTs will proceed by meeting with former agency officials and experts who closely follow federal agencies, and with officials from think tanks, labour groups, trade associations, and other NGOs.
Many of the ART members have had long careers in the federal agencies they will now help prepare for the incoming Biden-Harris administration, the transition said.
(With inputs from PTI.)