Transforming Government, Transforming Community

Through a series of signature “place-based initiatives,” the Obama Administration has made a historic effort to support communities in a comprehensive fashion, helping to empower communities to address their needs holistically. Place-based initiatives concentrate funding, flexibility, technical assistance and other support to help selected sites forge integrated approaches to community transformation that cut across individual programs, departments and sectors.
The effectiveness of these place-based initiatives depends not just on how well the policies were designed, but also on the abilities of the federal staff who interface with the participating sites on a day-to-day basis, such as grant managers, community liaisons, desk officers, program officers and team leads.
This report shines a light on the critical yet often poorly understood roles frontline federal staff play in helping communities implement place-based initiatives. The first section of this report captures specific competencies respondents identified as crucial for federal staff engaged in place-based work. The second section suggests ways that these competencies can be developed and supported. The third section highlights broader conditions, often beyond the direct control of the frontline place-based workforce, that allow place-based initiatives to flourish.