A division within the Department of Energy is starting to quietly prepare for a Biden administration even though ascertainment has not yet been reached and no official connection between the agency and the Biden transition team has been made, according to a department staffer.

“We had a call yesterday and talked quite a bit about this, and the direction we received was to expect a transition, start planning for it, think about the things that the Biden team would likely want to see and start brushing up on those documents and start thinking about how do we frame our programs and our work in a way that is attractive to the Biden administration,” the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told CNN. 

“I would say that’s been the most specific direction that I’ve received,” the staffer added, referring to the call. 

The staffer clarified that this guidance was not from Trump appointees, but from professional staff, and that this topic was purposefully delivered in the form of phone call and not a memo, as not to have a paper trail. 

“This is not direction from the current political appointees from the Trump administration, it’s from basically the staff below the political level,” the staffer said.

The reason why this planning is unofficial, happening without a paper trail, the staffer explained, is because until ascertainment is made and the DOE can make official contact with the Biden transition team, the DOE needs to stay on the good side of Trump appointees who are still in charge of approving their projects for the time being. 

“The risks, I would say for us are like for some projects we work on now that will still continue to need approval from Trump appointees. We don’t want to get on their bad side in this interregnum period,” the staffer said. “I think that’s part of this is not wanting to get ahead of them and making sure that we are, you know, being, careful about how we frame things, without a paper trail or anything public facing.”

Even though this staffer characterized DOE employees as viewing the Biden transition as inevitable, the staffer said colleagues are still careful with their wording when talking about the incoming Biden administration. 

“In terms of how to talk about it, what we decided is to refer to the next administration but not to say Biden or President-elect,” the staffer explained. “If we’re doing the work internally or if we’re sending an email or something related to it, say like the next administration but be ambiguous about what that means.”

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