The National Commission on Presidential Transitions and Foreign Policy

The National Commission on Presidential Transitions and Foreign Policy

Whenever it confronts the age-old problems of the transfer of power and authority, the United States faces no set of issues more pressing and important that those concerning foreign relations. The Commission, which included representatives of both incoming and outgoing administrations in each of the postwar transitions, examined the impact of changes in administrations and their impact on foreign policy. In their subsequent report, the members aimed to codify successful practices and suggest areas where further improvements might be made to enable greater continuity of foreign policy between administrations.


  • William P. Rogers, U.S. Attorney General, 1957–1961; U.S. Secretary of State, 1969–1973
  • Cyrus R. Vance, U.S. Secretary of State, 1977–1980


  • David E. Bell, Assistant to the Chief, Fiscal Division, Bureau of the Budget, 1948–1949; Administrative Assistant to the President, 1951–1953
  • Harold Brown, U.S. Secretary of Defense, 1977–1981
  • Phillip W. Buchen, Counsel to the President, 1974–1977
  • Clark Clifford, U.S. Secretary of Defense, 1968–1969
  • Walter Cronkite, Anchor, CBS Evening News, 1962–1981
  • David R. Gergen, Special Counsel to the President, 1975–1977; Editor, U.S. News & World Report; Counselor to the President; Director of Center for Public Leadership, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  • General Andrew J. Goodpaster, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander and Commander in Chief, United States European Command, 1969–1974
  • Carol C. Laise, U.S. Ambassador to Nepal, 1966–1973
  • Charles McC. Mathias, U.S. Senator (R-Md.), 1969–1987
  • Jane Cahill Pfeiffer, Chairman of NBC, 1978–1980
  • Dean Rusk, U.S. Secretary of State, 1961–1969
  • Theodore C. Sorensen, Special Counsel for President Kennedy, 1961–1963; Of Counsel, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison
  • Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., President & Chairman, National Urban League; Chairman, Presidential Transition Team, 1992; Senior Counsel, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Senior Managing Director, Lazard Freres & Co.
  • Jack H. Watson, Jr., White House Chief of Staff, 1980–1981

Commission Director: Kenneth W. Thompson, Director of the Miller Center, 1978–1998