Evaluation of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Teams Pilot: Final Report. 2.3 Selection and Placement of SC2 Team Members


During the summer of 2011, following the assessment process and selection of the six pilot cities, the DPC worked with the participating federal agencies to assemble the SC2 teams. Each pilot city had a SC2 team consisting of a team lead and additional federal experts who worked full-time, part-time, or in an advisory role for the engagement. A small number of members were deployed to live and work full-time in the pilot cities, while the remainder worked out of federal headquarters or federal regional offices. 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. Exhibit 5 below displays the distribution of team members as full-time, part-time, or advisory members.

Exhibit 5: SC2 Team Members by Pilot Time Commitment


Source: Percentages were calculated using three team member rosters provided to Abt Associates for September 2011, January 2012, and September 2013.
Note: 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.


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 agency was responsible for its staff assignments to the SC2 teams. While no overarching guidance was given to agencies about how to select team members, in most cases senior agency staff and agency POCs collaborated to identify potential candidates, who were then offered the opportunity to join a SC2 team. In a few cases, team members actively lobbied agency leadership for the opportunity to participate.

A primary consideration in selecting members was the time the member had available to dedicate to the engagement and, for regionally based team members, the member’s proximity to a pilot city. Agencies also consistently attempted to place team members in the different pilot cities based on how well their expertise aligned with the needs of that city as determined during the assessment process. Agencies regarded staff with targeted skill sets or specific knowledge of relevant agency programs or policies as most beneficial to pilot cities.

Other factors were also considered in the selection of team members, though less frequently than staff availability and alignment of staff skills with city needs. For some agencies, local knowledge about a pilot city and its key stakeholders, or experience working with the city or state government, was a key consideration. Also important were a willingness and enthusiasm to be involved in the pilot. One agency representative noted the importance of selecting staff that were comfortable moving beyond their traditional roles in the federal government, in keeping with SC2’s emphasis on allowing cities to drive the implementation process. Another regarded the engagement as a means to encourage employee retention by offering the opportunity to staff who regarded it as an attractive option. Along those lines, several team members expressed a personal preference for working in a particular city due to a personal  connection there.

Despite agencies’ attempts to match team members to pilot cities’ needs, the alignment was not always perfect. Cities reported several cases in which the team member came from one program within a federal agency when the city really needed the skills or experience from a different program in the same agency. A factor complicating member placement was that the skills and expertise the cities needed were not always known at the time the teams were being formed and also tended to evolve over time.

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