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Robert Traynham

Robert Traynham

The challenge for the 45th president of the United States when he takes office next month will be to not only find talented professionals to take over the government at all levels, but to find professionals of color within those ranks.

The riddle of filling top slots with diverse people has been around since – almost the founding of this country — but with all of the advances we have made as a society, filling positions with people of color remains a challenge. The age-old excuse of previous incoming administrations was that they could not find qualified people of color to serve in specific roles.

I think that argument was true perhaps 20 years ago when the unfortunate truth was that there were not a lot of people of color who were in the talent pipeline to serve in top positions; especially at the beginning of a new administration. That was mainly due to not having equal access to lower level jobs where people could be groomed for promotions and having the opportunity to gain the experience and connections for future administrations. That was then and this is now.

With the passing of the George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and the soon to be Barack Obama administration, there should be ample people who could come out of “retirement” to re-enter federal service should the president-elect’s team choose them.

The bottom line is that the incoming administration should look like America and although I applaud the President-elect Donald Trump for seriously considering former Congressman Harold Ford, a Democrat from Tennessee who is African American, along with Dr. Ben Carson, a prominent neurosurgeon and former GOP presidential candidate who is African American, the junior staff on the transition team along with the incoming West Wing and administration staff are mostly male and mostly people of non-color.

To be fair, the transition team is working under enormous deadlines to take over the government in just over a month. Even if it was expected to win (almost all of the pundits and pollsters got it wrong) and started planning the transition weeks before Election Day, the team still would be under enormous pressure, but the fact that it had to hit the ground running with very little support should be taken into consideration – but only to a point.

The Trump administration has four years of governing ahead of it, and it is realistic to put steps in place to ensure that the people running the government reflect the diversity of America. Yes, it does mean proactively reaching out to historically black colleges and universities to get recent graduates into the talent pipeline, and proactively reaching out to Corporate America to find C-Level executives willing to take a pay cut to work in the government and let’s face it; it will take proactive measures to convince many Democrats and even some Republicans to work for the government.

But the time is now. To serve our country and our President Elect in this time of need and the time is now for us to come together to make sure that our government remains running smooth and working effectively for all Americans.

Robert Traynham is the vice president of communications for the Bipartisan Policy Center. He can be twitted at @roberttraynham.

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