White House Council on Strong Cities Strong Communities

On March 15, 2012, the Obama White House issued an executive order to create the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2 Council). The council coordinated federal efforts that focused on comprehensive technical assistance and policy recommendations to SC2 communities with attention to strengthening local economies. The council also focused on streamlining federal resources and regulations and disseminating best practices. Co-chaired by the secretary of HUD and the assistant to the president for the Domestic Policy Council, the SC2 Council convened more than 20 secretaries and directors from federal agencies and departments, including secretaries from the General Services Administration and the Departments of Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, and Transportation. The secretaries convened at regular meetings, worked across agencies to coordinate and implement various SC2 components, and provided updates to the president. The council facilitated the federal-to-local collaboration that occurred through SC2’s other programs, including National Resource Network (NRN) and CST.

Convening these agencies to align efforts, grants, and activities was important because SC2 did not secure additional funding but instead leveraged existing resources for more impact by more efficient planning and repurposing of funds. Respondents noted that the SC2 Council created new opportunities for federal agencies, beyond HUD, to understand urban policy. The council also helped federal agencies identify policy levers and resources that were underused in cites. The meeting also allowed federal agencies to understand each other’s protocols and procedures.

In 2015, OMB created the Community Solutions Task Force based on the lessons learned from the SC2 Council. In November 2016, President Obama signed an executive order to create the White House Council of Community Solutions to further align federal efforts with local communities’ priorities, highlight successful solutions based on best practices, and streamline federal support for communities.