Three Indian Americans lead Biden-Harris transition teams

White House
Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian/White House

20 more in teams to prepare Biden-Harris team to lead America on Day One.

To ensure that the incoming Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration hits “the ground running on Day One,” a 500-member transition team, including more than 20 Indian Americans, has been set up to put America “back in the game.”

Days after he named former surgeon general Vivek Murthy to co-chair a task force to address the critical  coronavirus pandemic issue, Biden rolled out several agency review teams (ARTs) with at least three Indian Americans as leads.

Arun Majumdar of Stanford University heads the Department of Energy transition team; Rahul Gupta of March of Dimes heads the Office of National Drug Policy team; Kiran Ahuja of Philanthropy Northwest heads Office of Personnel Management team.

There are at least 20 other Indian Americans in ARTs relating to the Departments of State, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Justice, Labor, and the Federal Reserve.

The Biden transition team said the ARTs have been rolled out “to ensure a smooth transfer of power, and preparing for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and their cabinet to hit the ground running on Day One.”

These teams, it said, have been crafted to ensure they not only reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration, “but reflect the diversity of perspectives crucial for addressing America’s most urgent and complex challenges.”

RELATED: Vivek Murthy named co-chair of Biden covid-19 advisory board (November 9, 2020)

Other Indian Americans on the ARTs include Puneet Talwar for State Department, Pav Singh for National Security Council and Office of Science and Technology and Arun Venkatraman for Department of Commerce and USTR.

Pravina Raghavan and Atman Trivedi have been named for Department of Commerce; 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 Labor.

Reena Aggarwal, and Satyam Khanna have been named for Federal Reserve, Banking and Securities Regulators; 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 for US Postal Service. Almost all of them are volunteers.

The transition team also disclosed that during calls from several foreign leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British  Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Biden told them that “America is going to be back. We’re going to be back in the game.”

Biden’s transition team said this is one of the most diverse agency review teams in presidential transition history.

More than half of the review team members are women, and approximately 40 per cent represent communities historically underrepresented in the federal government, including people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities.

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,” said Senator Ted Kaufman, Co-Chair, Biden-Harris Transition.

“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,” he said.

“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,” Kaufman said.

Biden announced the ARTs even as President Donald Trump has declined to concede the election and the General Services Administration has so far denied access to the President-elect’s transition team.

Once the GSA Administrator ascertains the results of the election, the review teams will meet with former agency officials and experts who closely follow federal agencies, and with officials from think tanks, labor groups, trade associations, and other nonprofits.

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.

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