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Data Informed Diplomacy

Data is a critical instrument of diplomacy.  When our workforce has data at their fingertips they are better prepared to engage diplomatically, manage effectively, and lead globally.

ANTONY J. BLINKEN
  SECRETARY OF STATE

On November 9, 2022, Secretary Blinken demonstrated his commitment to data informed diplomacy with a special visit to the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions’ Center for Analytics, the Department’s enterprise data management and analytics capability. The Secretary saw firsthand how employees leverage data and technology in innovative ways to support his agenda to modernize American diplomacy.

Secretary Blinken Holds a Meet and Greet With the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions' Center for Analytics

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken holds a meet and greet with the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions' Center for Analytics at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on November 9, 2022. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

To lead America’s foreign policy in the 21st century, we must be fully prepared for the challenges, both seen and unseen, that lie before us. As the leader of our country’s response to these challenges, the Department of State must leverage data as a critical instrument of diplomacy.

Brian P. McKeon
Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources

At the U.S. Department of State, data is at the heart of our work. Operating in the world’s most challenging environments and competing strategically on a global stage demand that data not only be produced, used, or stored, but leveraged as a strategic asset.

The launch of the Department’s first-ever Enterprise Data Strategy (EDS) [4 MB] helps ensure that our workforce has the right data, when and where they need it to achieve their mission. In order to ensure the strategy is actionable and relevant to the core priorities of the Department, the Enterprise Data Council – comprised of bureau leaders and chaired by the Chief Data Officer – will oversee an incremental implementation of the strategy over a three-year time horizon. This approach will bolster data analytics and management, activate governance, and build a data-savvy workforce while focusing on two Department priorities every six months.

Whether it is the repatriation of American citizens stranded abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic or coordination of international aid as it is rushed to countries struck by natural disaster, when American foreign affairs professionals are equipped with high-quality and timely data, they can help make the world safer, more just, and less divided. We invite you to explore this site to learn how the U.S. Department of State is making data a critical instrument of diplomacy.

Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources Brian P. McKeon signs the Department of State’s first-ever Enterprise Data Strategy at a ceremony at the Harry S Truman building.

The goals and objectives of the Enterprise Data Strategy call for: the development of a data culture in the Department; the promotion of training for increased data fluency; greater data access, in part through new technology; and better data governance to ensure data is used ethically and securely.

Enterprise Data Strategy

AI Use Case Inventory

Department Releases Inaugural Artificial Intelligence Use Case Inventory

The U.S. Department of State is leveraging the transformative power of data-driven technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI), to benefit our country and the world at large. Efforts are underway to accelerate the use of AI capabilities as a tool to inform foreign policy decisions and increase operational efficiency. The Department has multiple needs for AI that range from accessing and analyzing large amounts of text data from Department reporting, to assessing and predicting the impact of our outreach and messaging, to countering disinformation.

Identifying and scaling pilot projects involving emerging technologies are a key pillar in Secretary Antony Blinken’s plan to modernize American diplomacy. These technologies present opportunities for the Department to be forward-thinking in building a modern workforce while leveraging best practices to reduce the risk of unintended harm through adherence to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Recommendation on AI. As a steward of Trustworthy AI, the Department will promote United States leadership in developing and deploying AI technologies responsibly in the public and private sectors. The application of these technologies must foster public trust by protecting privacy, civil rights, civil liberties, and must align with democratic values. 

To ensure Department AI capabilities are applied consistent with the highest public-sector standards such as protecting privacy, promoting transparency, and aligning with legislative and executive requirements, the Department designated Chief Data Scientist Joel Nantais as the Responsible AI Official (RAIO). He is strategically seated in the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions’ Center for Analytics (M/SS/CfA), which led the year-long development of the Department’s first-ever Enterprise Data Strategy (EDS). As reflected in Goal Two of the EDS, the Department must establish policies and processes to align these technologies with trustworthy and responsible AI principles.

The Center for Analytics coordinated the collection of the Department’s inaugural AI Use Case Inventory, featured below, in compliance with Executive Order 13960. This list is important not just in response to this Executive Order, but also to highlight the innovative and important work of bureaus and offices across the Department piloting new use cases and scaling existing capabilities. The list also provides transparency into how the Department is beginning to leverage data and data-fueled technologies as instruments to achieve our diplomatic mission, while ensuring such technologies are only used in line with the intended purpose and with strict oversight in line with E.O. 13960 and all applicable laws and regulations.

For more information or to reach the RAIO, please email cfa@state.gov.

Data for Diplomacy Awards

The Enterprise Data Council (EDC), in collaboration with the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions’ Center for Analytics (M/SS/CfA), launched the inaugural Data for Diplomacy Awards program in the spring of 2022 as way to encourage and reward the practice of data-informed diplomacy. The Department-wide program recognizes individuals and teams that make major strides in leveraging data as a strategic asset in support of the Department’s mission. Leaders with diverse expertise from across the Department help to ensure a balanced evaluation process. The awards fall into the following categories: 

  • Data for Diplomacy Individual Award – Given to the top individual nominee who has made major strides in leveraging data as a strategic asset in support of the Department’s mission.
  • Data for Diplomacy Group Award – Given to the top group nominee who has made major strides in leveraging data as a strategic asset in support of the Department’s mission.
  • Data for Diplomacy ‘Ambassador’ Award – Given to a team or individual that most significantly contributes to cultivating a data culture at the Department through communications, training, or collaborative activities that improve the Department’s ability to leverage its data as a strategic asset.
  • Data for Diplomacy Post Award – Given to the top post or mission that has used innovative data solutions to advance either policy or operational objectives in line with their Integrated Country Strategy.

In its first year, judges reviewed an impressive number of submissions from more than 40 Department bureaus and dozens of posts from across the globe. The number and superior quality of data-related projects demonstrates the ingenuity and eagerness of the workforce to help transform the Department into a data-centric organization.

Other Resources

The White House

Data.gov

U.S. Department of State

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