Evaluation of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Teams Pilot: Final Report. 5.1.1 Strengths of the SC2 Approach from the Perspective of Cities

08/25/2014

Stakeholders in pilot cities described the strengths of the SC2 approach in terms of how it changed their relationship with the federal government and in terms of the outcomes achieved for their cities. They valued the bottom-up approach that replaced the usual federal interactions with cities rooted in compliance and monitoring and encouraged federal staff to get involved in the day-to-day operations of their cities, thus giving involved federal staff a clearer picture of the specific challenges they face and how cities are affected by federal policies.

City stakeholders regarded the pilot as a way to facilitate more direct access to a range of federal resources. They gained a better understanding of federal policies and programs via the pilot and benefitted from increased awareness of federal funding opportunities. They learned how to use existing federal funds more effectively and retained millions of dollars in funds that were at risk of being recaptured by the federal government. The cities also gained more direct access to decision makers in the federal government. City stakeholders noted that they were able to receive quick and definitive answers to questions that they felt would otherwise have taken months or years to be resolved. The ability to bypass bureaucratic barriers and receive assistance in removing or  mitigating red tape was especially valued by the cities.

Cities appreciated that the engagement led to new or improved relationships with federal employees and community stakeholders. City stakeholders indicated that participating in the pilot provided the city with new connections to federal employees. They expected that many of these new relationships would continue beyond the pilot and would be a way to partner with federal agencies on local projects, or simply be a conduit for information about federal resources, opportunities, or policies. Cities also valued that team members often were able to help repair existing strained relationships with federal officials, as was seen in several cases where regionally-based federal staff were familiar with cities due to grant oversight responsibilities. Regarding relationships with community stakeholders, cities appreciated the working groups that team members helped form in areas, such as neighborhood revitalization and workforce development. These groups and resulting relationships are expected to benefit the cities for years to come.

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