Evaluation of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Teams Pilot: Final Report. 3.6 Implementation Challenges


As Exhibit 7 shows, team members made significant gains in helping cities address their priorities in a short amount of time. However, the following challenges at times impeded progress:

  1. Staff turnover. Some projects were delayed or ended because of a change in staffing or a loss of leadership at either the city or the federal level.
  2. City capacity. Pilot cities faced capacity challenges that limited their ability to make the best use of federal assistance offered by the engagement. These challenges included small city staffs, city staff with insufficient time to allocate to the pilot, and a lack of structure to support certain activities.
  3. Federal difficulty adapting to new roles required by the pilot or moving beyond historical conflicts with cities. A small number of team members had difficulty either adapting to a role in which the city directed the activities and federal representatives played a supporting role, or moving beyond previous problematic relationships with cities, especially in cases where an agency’s historical relationship with the city was one of monitoring and compliance.
  4. Turf battles. In pilot cities, some city stakeholders did not welcome federal assistance and as a result chose not to interact with the SC2 teams. Similarly, tensions at times existed between regional and Washington, DC-based federal team members, with regional staff regarding the engagement as a critique of their existing approach to working with a city.
  5. Misaligned team member expertise and city priorities. As noted in Section 2.4, there was not always perfect alignment between the skills of a team member assigned to a city and the skills demanded by the city’s priority areas. This lack of alignment led to less effective partnerships than might have been achieved otherwise.

The next chapter further explores how these implementation challenges, as well as other factors, affected the ability of SC2 teams to address city priorities.

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