Chicago, Nov.26 : Barack Obama will hold no actual authority in the Executive Branch until January 20, though he is looking very presidential these days.
When he makes an announcement, he is ringed by American flags and stands behind a lectern that has a very presidential-looking placard announcing "The Office of the President-Elect."
But according to Fox News, the props are merely that.
Under the Constitution, there is no such thing as the Office of the President-elect.
Technically, Obama will not even become the president-elect until the Electoral College convenes after the second Wednesday in December and elects him based on the results of the November 4 general election, as stated in the Constitution.
So what is Obama's executive authority in the weeks leading to January 20?
In the 11 weeks between Election Day and Inauguration Day, the next president must ensure a smooth transition by selecting political appointees to manage key agencies and offices within the Executive Branch, and by creating the policies that will define the new administration -- all while respecting the authority held by the current president.
The Presidential Transition Act -- created in 1963 and amended in 2000 -- establishes formal provisions for the transition period by outlining training and other assistance that the president-elect and his team of advisers can receive as they prepare to assume office.
The amended bill -- co-sponsored by lawmakers including former Sen. Fred Thompson, Sen. Joe Lieberman, and Sen. Dick Durbin -- calls for the "training and orientation of high-level presidential appointees," among other things, as well as more efficient background checks to ensure individuals are properly vetted and confirmed for office.
Obama has employed over 500 staffers to assist in his transition operations -- working from a nondescript office building in downtown Washington and from locations in his hometown of Chicago.
His transition team has received a budget of 12 million dollars -- 5.2 million dollars of which was allocated by Congress, and the rest from private donations of under 5,000 dollars.
As president-elect, Obama is also given the same highly classified intelligence briefings that President Bush receives on a daily basis. And Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden get full Secret Service protection, which Obama also received during the Democratic primaries and general election campaign.
But the "Office of the President-Elect," while critical in building the future government, has no official power.