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With 100 Days Left, Patrick Transition Effort Underway

With 100 days remaining as of Tuesday until his "lonely walk" out of the State House and into the job market, Gov. Deval Patrick has a two-person transition team working to smooth the way for his successor.

"We've been working on it all summer long," Brian Gosselin, the transition director, told the News Service. The former chief of staff in the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, Gosselin said he contacted the National Governors Association in June to learn the best ways to manage a transition.

Patrick was sworn in Jan. 4, 2007 and is the fourth-longest serving governor of Massachusetts, behind Govs. Michael Dukakis, Levi Lincoln, Jr., and Caleb Strong.

Some aides to Gov. Mitt Romney, Patrick's immediate predecessor, purchased their computer hard drives when they left office, taking their electronic files with them. That is not the game-plan for the Patrick administration.

"It's certainly not our intention to be purchasing hard drives. We're going through a very advanced records-retention process here, that's very proactive and strategic, and we've partnered with the secretary of the commonwealth's office," said Gosselin.

Gosselin said the aim is "ensuring a smooth transition to the new governor's team and setting them up to be on a strong position to govern on day one no matter who's elected."

The most likely successors are Martha Coakley, a Democrat and the state's attorney general, or Charlie Baker, a Republican and former Cabinet secretary in the Weld and Cellucci administrations who challenged Patrick in 2010 and has been on the receiving end of Patrick's criticism this election cycle. Coakley and Baker have been roughly tied in recent polls, with three independents - Evan Falchuk, Jeff McCormick and Scott Lively - receiving single-digit support.

Gosselin is being assisted in the transition by Pat Johnson, a member of the governor's staff who now has the title transition coordinator. Winning candidates typically appoint their own transition teams to help make personnel and policy decisions before inauguration day, and Gosselin said his team would "absolutely" be prepared with briefing materials for the winner immediately after the Nov. 4 election.

Another goal of the transition is completing priorities for the current administration, which is set to depart ahead of the Jan. 8 noon inauguration.

"We crafted a series of guidance documents for the entire executive branch, the secretariats and the agency staff, to use in order to pretty much maximize the time that we have to finish the administration's priorities, but also ensuring that we can help to assist the new team," Gosselin told the News Service in a phone interview Monday.

Gosselin, who said the administration is trying to ensure a transition that is "successful, coordinated and as transparent as possible," said documents would be posted online. The administration's description of the priorities still on the to-do list was general.

"As the Governor has said, we are working to finish strong on the Patrick Administration's successful strategy of investing in education, innovation and infrastructure that has created growth and opportunity across the Commonwealth," spokeswoman Rachael Neff said in a statement.

Gosselin, who returned to state government after receiving a master's degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government, said it is impossible to say how many employees of the Executive Branch will remain on the job when the next governor takes over.

"The answer is we don't know the answer to that, because you can't determine what's going through each individual person's mind," said Gosselin, who said the transition team is addressing the matter of departures in its briefings. He said, "We need to plan for pretty much the whole universe."

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