Project 2025 Aims to Equip the Next Conservative Presidential Administration on Day 1
This week, at Family Policy Alliance’s SoConCon Social Conservative Policy Conference, I sat down with Paul Dans, director of the 2025 Presidential Transition Project at The Heritage Foundation. In this conversation, we explore Project 2025, which seeks to “build on four pillars that will, collectively, pave the way for an effective conservative administration: a policy agenda, personnel, training, and a 180-day playbook.”
JOY STOCKBAUER: Can you tell us a bit about what Project 2025 is?
PAUL DANS: Project 2025 is the conservative movement coming together to ensure that the next conservative president is ready to go Day 1. We’re assembling policies and aligned, trained staff to hit the ground running come January 2025.
STOCKBAUER: So is this project focused mostly on individuals who already have presidential administration experience, or are you more focused on equipping newcomers?
DANS: The way we’re going to change Washington is bringing new blood into Washington. This entire project is really aimed towards America — that is, everywhere outside of the beltway. We want new folks to come in and serve, essentially, but to do that, they need to know how this game is played and the rules of the road. That’s what we’re hoping to do. We’re going to identify talent, and then we’re going to teach you essentially what our core group of beliefs is. We’re going to train you in the way that agencies function and how you function within a government agency. And, finally, we’re going to put you to work helping to draft some of the transition plans on an agency-by-agency basis. You’ll be under consideration for these jobs, and you’ll know what to do if you get them.
But we need to have an entire army of conservatives coming to Washington. There’s a group of us who have served in the past, but our aim is to really go forth and multiply and to bring people who have ever wanted to do this work, people who are successful in other areas of life, and bring them and say, “This is possible to do, but you need to start thinking about it now. It’s too late to start thinking about this in November 2024.”
STOCKBAUER: Can you speak a bit to how this has historically worked? When a conservative president has been elected to office, how have they traditionally found a staff?
DANS: In the past, the transition effort has really been the second thought for the candidate. It typically starts in the spring or even summer of election year. The candidate has his or her own team going at this while, at the same time, they have a second team trying to win the election. Over time, obviously, we look at what the Democrats and liberals have done. If nothing else, they’re extremely prepared and organized. The level of complexity in the government demands that we start much, much earlier.
Heritage, for its part, we’re going on our 50th year and our organization you might think of a little bit as a mothership for the conservative movement just by breadth and size of Heritage — but Heritage did get on the map initially in 1980 by providing then President-elect Reagan with a policy book, agency-by-agency prescriptions of how a successful presidency could look. It was called “Mandate for Leadership.” And in 1980, Heritage was in its infancy, so the majority of that book, 400 contributors or so, came from outside of Heritage. And that’s proved a very helpful mechanism for a future president to kind of get on board, and Heritage has done that every four years.
But the realization with this election is that our republic is in such dire straits and the work here to be done is so great that not any one organization can do this alone. Our new president, Dr. [Kevin] Roberts, recognized that if we’re going to win in Washington, we have to do this and come together as a movement. We’ve been very excited when we’ve initially announced our conception and groups like FRC jump right on board. We’ve had a tremendous [amount of] help coming together with 50 of the most persuasive and respected conservative movers and really saying, “This is how we’re gonna pool our resources, we’re really gonna make sure we have top flight candidates in place to make the change.”
We want to have conservatives together and bring the candidates to our worldview instead of chasing after candidates. So, ultimately, we will deliver a product that will be so helpful to them that he or she can’t help but say “Thank you” and work with us.
STOCKBAUER: Do you have any words of advice for recent college grads or young professionals hoping to be part of a conservative administration in 2025? There are still years to go — what’s the best way to prepare to work in a presidential administration?
DANS: Project 2025 is built on four pillars. First is a policy book that we’re writing with many folks from Family Research Council as contributors and authors. That’s coming out next month, in April. So anyone really interested in this, I commend you to take a look at the book and see if this really strikes your fancy.
Our second pillar is a personal database, kind of akin to LinkedIn or Facebook. We want every potential applicant to curate his or her own page and upload their resume, list their social media, take some background diagnostic tests, and make yourself known to us. This will allow our 50 membership organizations to endorse people for various positions and review and vet people. The more active you are in creating a profile, the better you’re gonna stand out. I encourage anyone to go to Project2025.org and sign up. Our database will be going live in several weeks.
Three, we have online training, so that’s a wonderful ability to start learning about how Washington works by taking the online courses. They’re free on Project2025.org. We’ll be looking at your profile at the courses you complete according to your interests, so that’ll be a good interaction to further distinguish yourself.
Four, we’re ultimately gonna help people who have taken the courses and stood out to get planted on transition teams. There you can learn from more senior people in the movement and learn what goes on in the various agencies. If you’re a lawyer or law student, you can work on drafting regulations. If you’re just a college student, you might work in economics or research or whatever your field. That will allow you to gain familiarity with an agency. At the end of the day, this really is a community effort and we need to have one another’s backs.