Program, Partnership, and Resource Development Assistance
Interagency federal teams can leverage the unique capacities of the federal government to help local communities plan new initiatives or policies, build new partnerships, and access a range of available public and private resources. The federal team can provide this type of assistance through a number of activities and services, such as convening partners and organizations, consulting about specific types of resources and policies, and providing information and guidance on federal and other national projects that may be relevant to the local community. These activities will vary, depending on the local community and federal and national initiatives and priorities. Below are examples of these types of activities.
Convening and Catalyzing Partners: Given their visibility and reach, federal agencies have the power to convene and engage a wide range of partners, including local organizations and community constituents that have perhaps not previously worked with each other, but whose collective strengths and perspectives may outweigh what they can accomplish individually. Federal agencies can also bring in regional or national organizations that may or may not be working in a specific, local community but can offer a particular type of expertise or access to a set of valuable resources. Successful convening creates optimal conditions for inclusive and effective approaches to addressing local challenges that can benefit a community’s ability to solve problems collaboratively for years to come. Convenings may take various forms from informal meetings or roundtables to more formal events or conferences. The direct involvement of federal agency or White House leadership can assist convening capability by attracting national and local organizations and potential partners.
Hosting Visits with Federal Leadership: The federal team can request site visits by senior agency leadership for a range of purposes, such as to spotlight new federal grant awards, participate in roundtable discussions, generate local media coverage around recent accomplishments, or bring together leaders from across the community. Site visits demonstrate the high priority the federal government places on local partnerships, and also helps elevate the team’s role in the eyes of local stakeholders. Finally, site visits allow agency leaders to see local conditions first-hand and talk to local leaders directly.
Aligning Resources: The federal team can increase its impact in a local community by making a concerted effort to strategically align federal financial and technical assistance. Specific tools for aligning resources include the following:
Co-investment. The federal team can strategically work with a local community to make them aware of two or more federal funding streams that may support different components of a specific initiative. Where agencies have relevant authorities and flexibility, they can look to braid together pilot or demonstration funds across agencies or work with the local community to re-purpose existing funds across multiple agencies around a singular project.
Coordination Authorities and Interagency Memorandums of Agreement (MOA). While much of the initial work of the federal team will not require a formal agreement, developing technical assistance MOAs between two or more agencies may assist in deepening interagency collaboration around planning, data sharing, evaluation and outcome tracking, and other activities; and sustaining local partnerships with the community. The White House Office of Management and Budget has developed an interagency technical assistance MOA template in partnership with 16 federal agencies that federal teams can use: Interagency MOA.
See Section 2, Phase 2, Play 5 for more information on resource alignment.
Spurring New Initiatives and Identifying High Potential Projects: Federal teams are positioned to connect local communities into federally-led initiatives, projects, or campaigns that address local needs and priorities. For example, recently federal teams have helped connect local communities to President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative and have helped local communities enhance or expand summer jobs programs through a federal technical assistance initiative. A number of these new, federally-led initiatives are in the data and innovation spaces. See examples of these project below. Federal agencies also have the capacity to facilitate connections between local communities and national efforts led by foundations or private sector organizations. In addition to this work, federal teams may also be positioned to help identify existing projects in local communities that closely align with available federal funding or other opportunities, and that can be scaled or expanded by pursuing and accessing such resources.
Navigating the Federal Government: One of the most valuable roles a federal team can play is to help local communities navigate federal programs and systems and access quick and accurate answers to allowable uses of certain funds, available flexibilities, and awareness of waivers and other tools that can be tapped into and customized for local needs. In addition to these direct services a federal team can offer, the Community Solutions Community of Practice creates a platform for federal staff working in communities across the country to share best practices and new opportunities, build relationships, and crowdsource existing solutions. There is a listserv and website to support this coordination and information sharing.
Building Institutional and Community Capacity: Federal teams can help local communities increase their capacity in building partnerships, planning and managing programs, and accessing federal resources. For example, teams can provide ongoing assistance in researching federal grants and putting together competitive applications. As planning and implementation partners, federal teams can help local communities build their project management, governance, and evaluation capacities by providing advice and project management tools and templates. Finally, federal teams can help local communities better access and use federal data, as well as local, administrative data in identifying challenges and implementing solutions.