U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is sending out an army of top evaluators into government agencies to study the sprawling U.S. bureaucracy as he shapes the country's direction over the next four years.
Obama's 450-strong transition team will scour more than 100 departments and agencies for data to underpin new policies once his presidency gets underway on Jan 20. And aides said the teams could be in place as early as Friday.
World leaders are preparing to descend on Washington from Friday for a summit called by President George W Bush and dedicated to finding ways to reform the global finance system.
But those eager to make Obama's acquaintance will be disappointed, as the president-elect has stressed he will not be attending the talks of the Group of 20 rich countries and major developing economies.
Instead, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former Republican congressman Jim Leach will stand in for Obama and meet foreign delegations on the sidelines of the talks.
"This weekend's summit is an important opportunity to hear from the leaders of many of the world's largest economies," said senior Obama foreign policy adviser Denis McDonough in a statement.
But stressing there can only be one president at a time, McDonough said Obama's bipartisan team will be "available to meet with and listen to our friends and allies on his behalf."
As the world also awaits news from Obama on his cabinet picks, transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said Wednesday the transition staff was still shaping the teams which will move into all government agencies.
"We're working hard to put the agency review teams together and expect they'll be announced this week and inside the agencies by the end of the week," she said in a statement.
A week after his historic election, Obama is riding a tide of public confidence that he will improve the economy, government and race relations, a new poll showed.
"American voters believe president-elect Barack Obama when he says,'Yes we can,'" Quinnipiac University said of its poll on voter attitudes.
With most voters' eyes on the state of the crumbling US economy, 70% of those polled expressed confidence the economy will be better by the end of Obama's term in office, while 11% thought it would be worse.
Amid a clampdown on news from the Obama team, his spokeswoman Cutter moved to quell speculation on who had been tapped to aid the transition.
"There's a lot of disinformation out there," Cutter warned, as she denied reports that respected former secretary of state Warren Christopher would head the State Department transition team.
She acknowledged however that Democratic Senator Sam Nunn, who for eight years headed the Senate Armed Services Committee, "will play an informal senior adviser role throughout the defense transition process."
During his first post-election press conference last week, Obama said he would move with "deliberate haste" to fill cabinet positions. He has yet to make any nominations, apart from his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
Obama's presidential transition team have already sidestepped a flurry of speculation that he would ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stay on.
The outgoing Bush administration, which has promised unprecedented cooperation with the Obama transition team, has invited aides to the president-elect to shadow outgoing officials.
But a report in Wednesday's edition of the Washington Post said the current Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, and CIA chief Michael Hayden both expected to be replaced.
Asked to comment on the report, a senior US intelligence official told AFP that Hayden "is not concerned about it."
"As Mike Hayden has told his workforce, he recognizes that he not only is privileged to lead the CIA, but he serves at the pleasure of the president. He doesn't have any expectations one way or the other. He is focused on getting the job done," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Vice President Dick Cheney will meanwhile welcome vice-president elect Joe Biden at his official Naval Observatory residence on Thursday, Cheney spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said.
"The Cheneys and the Bidens will have a private meeting and then tour the residence," she said.© Wire reports