Brian Merrick, deputy director of cloud program management at the State Department, discusses the agency’s cloud priorities, and how they will use the technology to further their mission.
Diplomats will soon have new tools to aid them in representing the United States, and aiding U.S. citizens abroad. The State Department is deploying cloud computing solutions to improve their services. Brian Merrick, deputy director of cloud program management at the State Department, says that cloud has changed the paradigm at the agency. “One of the things we are really focusing on with technology is trying to make sure we don’t have a one sizes fits all solution. With the complexity in the world, we try to make sure that we can find the best in breed capabilities. That’s why we are so excited about the advent of cloud technology. We have been dealing with the cloud for quite some time, but we’re finally at the point now where it has a large enough impact and rationalize that across all our environments,” Merrick said. “We’re standing up our new cloud program management office at State, and our role in that respect is to be a facilitator, a broker, and also a service provider… for everything from our bureaus in the United States to our diplomats overseas.” Merrick told Government Matters that building a new tech infrastructure has already improved the way that the State Department operates both at home and around the world. “In the world, one of our missions is to actually monitor elections overseas. And there’s a lot of challenges inherent to that especially in underdeveloped countries and parts of the world with challenging infrastructure. Typically in the past, folks from the post would have to coordinate with non-governmental organizations, host country organizations, and their own oversight teams. It is very difficult to do that from your desk.” Merrick said. “What we did, was we rolled out a collaborative tool set… which enabled the folks at post to configure the reporting that they needed, to configure the communication they needed, they can do live video chats with people all around that country in real time. As a result of that, they were able to increase their ability to predict outcomes to within a 3 percent margin of error… this really wasn’t possible before when they had to run back and forth and try to collect things over the phone.”