The RDC was organized in 1974 through Letter of Implementation (LOI) No. 22 issued on December 31, 1972 pursuant to the implementation of the Integrated Reorganization Plan (IRP) of 1972. Its present constitutional foundation rests on Article X, Section 14 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which provides states that:

 “The President shall provide for regional development councils, or other similar bodies composed of local government officials, regional heads of departments and other offices, and representatives from non-government organizations within the region for purposes of administrative decentralization to strengthen the autonomy of units therein and to accelerate the economic and social development of the units in the region.”

To make the RDC more effective in carrying out its constitutional mandate, it was reorganized through Executive Order No. 308 issued on November 5, 1987. Subsequent amendments include EO Nos. 318 (S. 1988), 347 and 366 (S. 1989), 455 (S. 1991) and 505 (S. 1992).  On April 12, 1996 the RDC was again reorganized with the issuance of EO 325 to further strengthen the RDCs to make it more responsive to new developments in socio-political fields and to ensure sustainable and broad-based development process. Recognizing labor as a primary social and economic force, EO 384 was subsequently issued on 07 December 1996 thereby institutionalizing the labor sector representation in the RDCs. The regular membership of the Council was further expanded in 2002 to include the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), taking cognizance of their role as major stakeholders in the generation of high-level and technical manpower at the regional       level (EO 143).

As provided in EO 325, the Regional Directors of members represented in the NEDA Board shall be regular members of the RDC. Per Administrative Order (AO) 148 (S. 2006), the NEDA Board was reconstituted which excluded the membership of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Health (DOH). These agencies were, however, reinstated through EO 562 (S. 2006) considering the critical roles of these agencies in the pursuit of socio-economic development across the regions.

On June 30, 2008, Administrative Order 231 was issued which reorganized the cabinet groups including the NEDA Board. It excluded the membership of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). It added Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) and Presidential Management Staff (PMS). The membership of DOLE and DFA were also reinstated through EO 755 (S. 2008).

The RDC under EO 325 (s. 1996) has become more responsive to the increased autonomy of the LGUs as provided for by the 1991 Local Government Code (Republic Act No. 7160). In particular, EO 325 was issued to enable the RDC to respond effectively to the increased needs of the LGUs for technical assistance in the areas of planning, investment programming and project development in the light of the LGUs’ strengthened roles and greater responsibilities. The NEDA Regional Office 5 serves as the secretariat of the RDC.

The RDC’s relevance is further highlighted through the major functions it is mandated to do such as coordination of the implementation programs in the regions that involves several local government units and agencies. The technical assistance it provides to LGUs, upon request, extends to the preparation of local development plans and programs and fulfilling requirements of LGU projects proposed to be funded under the Official Development Assistance (ODA).