Center for Analytics marks first anniversary

Data enthusiasts get a first look at the Center for Analytics’ products during a demonstration outside of the George C. Marshall Conference Center during the “Data for Diplomacy” launch, January 2020. Photo courtesy of M/SS
Data enthusiasts get a first look at the Center for Analytics’ products during a demonstration outside of the George C. Marshall Conference Center during the “Data for Diplomacy” launch, January 2020. Photo courtesy of M/SS

By Janice deGarmo

The Office of Management Strategy and Solutions (M/SS) launched the Center for Analytics (CfA) in January 2020. As CfA celebrates its first anniversary, its team reflected on an incredible inaugural year as the Department of State’s first enterprise-wide capability to transform data into valuable insights to inform foreign policy and management decisions essential to the Department’s diplomatic mission.

CfA is focused on solving real business problems. Throughout the last year, the CfA team worked with approximately 35 bureaus on nearly 30 unique products, including the Country Dashboard, Congressional Insights, and the China Activities Platform. The novel coronavirus outbreak allowed CfA to demonstrate its value in the form of the COVID-19 Data Analytics Team—a multi-bureau partnership. It also allowed the team to spearhead efforts to collect and analyze data supporting Diplomacy Strong—the Department’s phased, conditions-based approach to returning employees to their work locations. CfA’s COVID-19 effort was one of nearly 50 projects either started or completed by the team in 2020.

As part of its efforts to foster a culture of data, CfA partnered with the Foreign Service Institute to provide data literacy courses, which are now almost all virtual to adapt to new workplace realities. These courses empower data practitioners and novices alike. To date, more than 1,500 employees have received online training.

CfA welcomed the Department’s first chief data officer, Dr. Matthew Graviss, at the end of the year. His role is to drive efforts to leverage data as a strategic asset—a cross-agency priority. Dr. Graviss also chairs the Enterprise Data Council (EDC), a decision-making body composed of senior leaders from across the Department’s organizational families. The EDC is spearheading the development of the Department’s first-ever enterprise data strategy. 

Data culture is an intangible idea, but CfA is proving that the results are not. Through its products, projects, and partnerships, CfA is quickly evolving into a reputable leader in data science within the U.S. government and beyond.

Janice deGarmo is director of the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions.