Building a More Responsive Federal Workforce: Lessons from the SC2 Pilot. 2. Background on the SC2 Pilot


This section provides an overview of the SC2 pilot including member background, the structure of the pilot, and member activities. This information is important as context for understanding what team members learned from their experiences, the way their work practices changed, and the extent to which these practices might be adopted by other federal employees.

Across the six cities, team members had a wide range of experience working for the federal government. According to the web survey, roughly equal numbers of team members were early career (0–4 years of experience), mid-career (5–14 years), and career (15 years or more) federal employees. These members represented 17 different federal agencies. There was wide variation in the number of staff members each department contributed, with several departments standing out as major contributors. These departments were the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Commerce, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Each SC2 team was comprised of a team lead and team members. These individuals contributed different amounts of time to SC2 team activities. In general, team members were classified as full-time, part-time, or advisory members. Full-time members were able to set aside their pre-pilot job responsibilities and focus nearly exclusively on being a team member in a particular city. All but one of the SC2 team leads were full-time members. Part-time members typically dedicated a portion of their time to SC2 team activities, while maintaining a portion of their existing workload. Advisory members did not have a dedicated time commitment to the pilot, but rather served as on-call support for the engagement, providing short-term, narrowly tailored assistance. Overall, 63 percent of team members were part-time, 12 percent were full-time, and 25 percent were advisory.7

During the pilot, team members worked from one of three locations:

  • On site, at or near city hall. In five of the six pilot cities, a small number of team members, 14 members in total, relocated to the city. The on-site members typically worked full-time on SC2 team activities operated from the mayor’s office or within a city department.
  • Remote, working in a regional or field office.8 The percentage of team members located in federal regional or field offices varied by site. Most of these team members had worked in these offices before their pilot participation. They generally worked part-time on SC2 team activities.
  • Remote, working at Department headquarters in the Washington, DC area. The percentageof team members located in department headquarters varied from site to site. Most Washington, DC-based team members worked on SC2 part-time or in an advisory role.

Team members began working with their respective cities in September 2011. In the early stages of the implementation, SC2 teams worked with city partners to identify priority areas for SC2 team attention and developed work plans to guide the implementation. Throughout the engagement, SC2 teams focused their work on five activity areas in keeping with the design and goals of the pilot:

  •  Providing responsive, transactional assistance to address specific problems, such as repurposing federal grant funds to be put to better use in a city.
  •  Building relationships between local stakeholders and state and federal employees, such as connecting local, state, and federal stakeholders to better coordinate planning for significant transportation projects.
  •  Brokering local or regional partnerships, such as the creation of a working group to explore a cluster strategy for economic growth.
  •  Temporary addition of technical capacity, such as assisting understaffed city departments with time-sensitive tasks.
  •  Program and plan development, such as the development of a neighborhood revitalization strategy.

While most activities had a primary focus that fit one of these five categories, many activities spanned more than one category.

7  Percentages were calculated using three team member rosters provided to Abt Associates in September 2011, January 2012, and August 2013 (updated in September 2013). Not included in the denominator of these percentages are 10 members whose data were missing or ambiguous, as well as the Presidential Management Fellows and German Marshall Foundation SC2 Fellows.

8  The category “regional or field office staff” is an aggregation of all federal employees not on site and not based in Department headquarters.

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