The State Department’s Data-Driven Future

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

In January of this year, the State Department made headlines when it established its Center for Analytics (CfA) to manage and analyze data across the entire department. The formation of an enterprise-level analytics center is a significant move for what has traditionally been a highly decentralized organization. It also reflects a broader goal at to better harness and apply its troves of data.

If you’re looking to get in on the action, read on for a couple of areas worth targeting in FY21.

Analytics to Improve Administrative Functions

Under Chief Information Officer Stuart McGuigan, IT systems at the agency are viewed in terms of business output, especially in how they support operational functions like workflows and onboarding. Speaking at an AFCEA Bethesda event in April, he described how the State Department is exploring robotic process automation (RPA) to speed up the onboarding process for new employees and further empowering back office staff.  

Improving operations is echoed in the FY21 budget request. Public Diplomacy is reviewing its strategy for the next fiscal year to see how it can “be more agile [and] data-driven.” Business intelligence and analytics may come to mind, but also consider innovative tools for data cleanup. While it may not seem quite as exciting, organizations must first understand what they’re looking at and how to sort through it before applying it in a meaningful way. In his talk, McGuigan pinpointed identifying data and determining its value as one key current challenge.

Data Sharing and Security

With offices and bureaus supporting everything from visa services to nuclear nonproliferation, the need to safely exchange and secure data at the State Department is ever-present. For example, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research included data security and management in its request of $1M in FY21 IT funding. Systems for storing and managing data can be attractive targets for nefarious actors, so securing these systems is especially crucial. One such system under the Bureau of Administration, the Centralized Data Collection and Integration System (CDCIS), is one of the main data-centric systems at State and is requesting a little over $3M for FY21 for further system development including implementing new forms.

This is the time of year when your government customers are thinking ahead to FY21 programs, so you’ll want to start thinking now about how to approach potential customers with your analytics or data management solutions that can help them better deliver on their mission.

 

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About Jessica Parks
Jessica Parks is an analyst with the Market Intelligence team at immixGroup, providing actionable analysis to help technology suppliers shorten their sales cycles. She holds a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. in political science from UNC Chapel Hill.

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