Promising Practice: Ask local community stakeholders to discuss (i) their experiences with existing federal policies and programs, and (ii) their thoughts on new program ideas. Refine policies, programs, and ideas based on their input.
Cities implement federal programs based on their understanding of program requirements and on local constraints. This often means that programs are implemented in ways that are considerably different from what was originally envisioned. Team members saw firsthand the ways that city officials navigate the complexity of federal programs and policies and realized that federal policy makers might benefit from understanding how community stakeholders experience federal program and policies. For example, if policy-makers could understand early on the challenges cities might face with implementation or the ways cities think they would need to adapt a program model to successfully implement it locally, they might be able to make more intentional decisions about these design elements from the start. This would ensure greater program consistency across cities and better support the local burden of program implementation. Team members emerged from the pilot with a vision for using local input to better align local implementation of federally-funded programs with what the programs were designed to achieve.
Team members from one participating agency have taken this learning to heart and worked to create feedback loops with staff representatives from the SC2 pilot communities in which they worked.
They are using these relationships to gather city input on how particular policies are affecting people on the ground in the cities. Historically, the agency has engaged with stakeholders at the state level. By gathering feedback from the local level as well, the agency is able to negotiate compromises between Federal direction, what a State may want to do, and what cities need to be doing.