Getting Urban Policy Out of the Silos?

Andrea Bernstein of WNYC in New York has done some interesting reporting about Adolfo Carrion Jr., who now directs the newly-created White House Office of Urban Affairs. One piece ran this morning on WAMU, a public radio affiliate here in the DC area. You can listen to the piece from WAMU here. The segment delves into some of the intersecting policy concerns that anyone dealing with urban revitalization will have to deal with.
Bernstein also has a longer piece up at WNYC here, where you can find audio and a transcript (well worth it). Besides capturing nicely some of the many kinds of concerns that the Shaping Our Towns & Cities project will explore, her piece also touches on an important aspect of how the project will approach these concerns. She notes how much of our national policy-making on urban revitalization or community development has been hampered by a piece meal approach, since there’s no real interactivity between the “silos” of the various federal agencies that each separately address only the kinds of issues within their purview:

The notion that the federal government operates in “silos” has been popularized by Bruce Katz, a Brookings Institution Vice President and the founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Program there. Katz has been promoting the idea that cities and their attached suburbs are–and will be–America’s economic engine. But he faults the federal government for looking at programs separately–for not seeing, for example, how Environmental Protection Agency policies that require brownfield clean-up, HUD programs that funnel funds to specific areas and USDA food stamp policies may all affect the same place.

The approach we’ll take in the Shaping Our Towns & Cities project is precisely to move out of that sort of a “silo” approach and to explore the intersections and interconnections among all these different kinds of concerns that affect the shape of our towns and cities. If you’re interested in that sort of a discussion experience, if you’d like to get out of the silos and think about a more multi-faceted approach, then drop me a line so we can talk about the project.

–Jeff Prudhomme

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