Phase III: Sustaining or Finalizing the Work and Long-Term Activities
The third phase of the work of an interagency federal team will likely vary significantly depending on the local context. In some cases, the federal team may wrap-up its work, especially if the team was organized around a crisis and/or key goals have been met. In other cases, the team may continue its work or develop an updated work plan, though with a smaller team and one that is at least led primarily by federal staff on or near the ground in local, district, or regional offices.
Assess Projects, Accomplishments, and Needs. The team lead should oversee a process to assess the longer-term activities of the team and determine the direction of the work.
Existing project status. Review the status of all ongoing projects and work plans and the amount of time and level of team commitment that will be necessary to complete the projects.
New project need. Is there a pressing need to launch new projects at this stage of the work?
Local input. What are the local community’s interests in collaborating with the federal team over the long-term?
Potential long-term directions. Based on these assessments, the ongoing work of the federal team could go in several directions that may include but are not limited to:
- Close-down, where once all existing projects are completed, the team concludes its working relationship with the local community.
- Scaled-back team that is led by and primarily comprised of staff from a small group of federal agencies most involved in the day-to-day work.
- Ongoing implementation of existing and new projects with a full federal team in order to address continuing needs and capacity challenges in the local community.
Questions to Consider
What close-down or transition strategy best meets the needs of the local community?
Does the federal team have the necessary resources and support to pursue the longer-term strategy?
Assess Team Composition. Based on the assessment of the long-term direction of the team, the team lead should work with relevant leadership, to determine whether a new team lead should be brought in to manage the team as it moves into this new phase. Similarly, the composition of agency liaisons should be reviewed.
- Team composition. As the work transitions, there may be a shift to a smaller, coordinated team doing day-to-day work in top priority areas. The team lead may transition to someone working in the regional or district office or relevant program office. It would be preferable to still have a team member based in a national office who can continue to monitor the team’s efforts and coordinate with agency leadership, as needed.
Questions to Consider
- How is the team composition changing? Is the change being communicated within federal agencies and to the local community?
Evaluation. An important activity of the longer-term and/or close-down phase is to ensure an evaluation and documentation plan is in place. This should not be the first point at which an evaluation is planned or considered, but it is the time to ensure an evaluation plan exists and there is a strategy for implementation.
Evaluation plan. The federal team should already have a performance measurement and management system in place for individual projects from Phase II. There may also be longer-term evaluations in place. At this stage, the team should determine the full evaluation plan and what resources may be available to support evaluation.
Document the story. In addition to an evaluation, the team should work with the local community to document the story of the federal-local partnership, including how the team was established, structured, managed; how it worked with the local community, and key challenges and successes faced by the team. Such documentation will be useful information for other interagency federal teams working in service of a local community in the present and future.
Questions to Consider
- What is the status of evaluations across projects and focus areas?
As interagency federal teams working in partnership with local communities continue to progress and evolve, the general steps and guidelines outlined above will also evolve, especially given the wide ranging scope and purpose of individual teams. This is especially the case for Phase III, as this new approach to federal-local partnerships is still at a relatively early stage. This playbook will be updated over time to reflect these modifications of how interagency federal teams are structured and managed, focusing on key features and principles of the work that is similar, despite the variation across teams and community needs. Members of such teams are encouraged to share their experiences and insights by posting comments to the discussion section of this GitBook.