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A Trump Appointee Stands Between Biden’s Team and a Smooth Transition

But there is no specific provision for when Ms. Murphy must act.

Pamela D. Pennington, a spokeswoman for the G.S.A., said in a statement on Monday that “an ascertainment has not yet been made. G.S.A. and its administrator will continue to abide by, and fulfill, all requirements under the law and adhere to prior precedent established by the Clinton administration in 2000.”

In an earlier statement, Ms. Pennington said that “the G.S.A. administrator does not pick the winner in the presidential election,” adding that “the G.S.A. administrator ascertains the apparent successful candidate once a winner is clear based on the process laid out in the Constitution.”

Aides to Mr. Biden say they expect Ms. Murphy to act within a few days, but they are bracing for the possibility that political pressure from the president and his Republican allies will prevent that. In a statement on Twitter, Jen Psaki, a transition official, gently prodded Ms. Murphy to make the announcement.

“Now that the election has been independently called for Joe Biden, we look forward to the GSA Administrator quickly ascertaining Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the President-elect and Vice President-elect,” Ms. Psaki wrote. “America’s national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signaling clearly and swiftly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power.”

The coronavirus pandemic has made office space less critical for the Biden transition team, which has been mostly meeting remotely for the past several months and will continue to do so, according to a transition official. There is a skeleton staff at the office space that was provided by the government before the election.

But once Ms. Murphy signals that the transition can begin, that office space will be expanded and equipped with computer systems that give the new administration access to classified systems and information, in addition to a secure location to have secret conversations.

If that does not happen in days, the Biden administration has other options. Transition officials have private office space they can continue to use, and Mr. Biden and his team will continue to operate remotely. When the president-elect met with his pandemic advisory board on Monday, he was in Delaware and the board members were on a big screen, calling in from their homes or offices.

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