We observed that SC2 team leads and members seemed more likely to further the city’s priorities when they were able and willing to work outside of their traditional agency roles and to embrace creative approaches to responding to city needs. As discussed, pilot cities had numerous demands on their time and limited capacity to address needs. This sometimes resulted in them not being able to give sufficient time to the SC2 pilot. In these instances, it was important for team members to be able to identify opportunities with little oversight from the city and make the connections necessary to advance city priorities. Successful team members were frequently praised for being creative problem solvers and go- getters.
Proactive team members used their experience and knowledge to develop new projects and move stalled projects along with little oversight from their cities. In one city, team members noticed that the city’s separate priorities for downtown revitalization and transit improvements were actually closely related, and they encouraged the city to align plans for these priorities into a comprehensive and successful approach. In another, the most successful team members were those who took the initiative in finding work, given limited direction from the city. The HUD team member in that city worked most closely with the independent housing authority, long in HUD receivership, helping it to resolve legacy disputes between the authority and the city. These necessary steps will help pave the way for the authority to return to local control. In a third city, the SC2 team took a dormant city plan to address homelessness and initiated an interagency council on homelessness that the city then took over and managed. In a fourth city, team members identified two opportunities for collaborative efforts in the region—a workforce development initiative and a skilled-manufacturing business development program—and assembled local partners to support each.
Team members’ ability to respond flexibly and creatively seemed to vary based on the culture of their home department, agency, and specific job responsibilities. Team members from agencies with more rigid structures for determining work assignments seemed to have a more difficult time working creatively with their cities. As might be expected, team members whose pre-SC2 pilot federal jobs were compliance-related seemed to struggle the most with the needed creative thinking.