Regional councils in North Carolina are the result of 1969 legislation that charged the NC Department of Administration with developing “…a system of multi-county regional planning districts to cover the entire state” (GS 143-341) after Congress passed the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act in 1968 calling for closer cooperation between federal programs and state and local governments.
By 1970, an executive order had designated 18 regions in North Carolina. In 1971, the state announced its Lead Regional Organization policy that directed state agencies to deal with a single regional organization in each designated region of the state for the delivery of services in several departments.
Regional councils have been operating in the state since 1972 although many were organically organized by local governments long before the official state designation. As the North Carolina landscape changed over the years some of the regions merged, bringing the current total to 16 regional councils serving the state.