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June 21, 2022

Key Mile Marker Reached on Road to State Department’s Data Maturity

By Matthew Graviss, Ph.D., Chief Data Officer

The State Department’s first-ever Enterprise Data Strategy (EDS) was a paradigm shift toward a data-driven culture, but the rubber met the road when the strategy began its implementation phase in October. Since then, the Department’s multifaceted efforts to leverage data as a critical instrument of diplomacy have been traveling at full speed. The successes of this journey were celebrated at a Department-wide Data Day, hosted by the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions’ Center for Analytics in early spring 2022.

Data Day opened with a ceremony recognizing the winners of the inaugural Data for Diplomacy Awards, which challenge the workforce to submit their innovative projects that use data to support, develop, and advance foreign policy. In its first year, the judges reviewed an impressive 118 submissions. The response, and the quality of the projects, demonstrate how the workforce is integrating data into policy and decision making and aligning to the Secretary’s modernization agenda.

Data Day also marked the successful completion of the first six-month EDS implementation campaigns, during which data management and analytic resources were concurrently and aggressively surged to support two of the Department’s policy and management priorities. The campaigns brought together cross-functional teams which achieved many firsts and breakthroughs for the Department in the areas of Strategic Competition and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA).

The goal of the Strategic Competition campaign was to use data to understand the nature and scope of the global activities of the Peoples Republic of China to better inform the Department’s strategic planning and foreign assistance. In support of this effort, the team developed a new suite of analytics tools, leveraged data to inform foreign assistance project selection processes, and added dozens of relevant datasets to the Department’s data catalog which made them accessible to Department stakeholders and the interagency. The initiative packaged the data into digestible, data-rich yet easy-to-use formats for busy policymakers. 

A second team created a new DEIA data policy to accelerate decision-making and increase data transparency while safeguarding privacy. Working with the Secretary’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, they developed a groundbreaking, interactive Demographic Baseline report and dashboard, which will be updated annually.  The Department will employ this demographic baseline to help benchmark progress, identify potential barriers to equal opportunity, inform policy responses, and promote accountability in recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce.

The goal is to continue to incorporate data into decision-making. Currently, teams are pushing down the gas pedal as they drive toward progress in the second round of campaigns which focus on Cybersecurity and Multilateral diplomacy.

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