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F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / M A R C H 2 0 1 2
Recognizing that these trends are
global and being driven by forces
outside the department, there is no
need for State to invent or own such
technologies. That is good news, for
that will greatly reduce the costs and
progress need not be held to the pace
of government.
The opportunity and the challenge
for foreign affairs agencies like State
will be to find new ways to collaborate
with academia, nongovernmental or-
ganizations, industry and foreign part-
ners, and to commit to keeping
information open to the maximum ex-
tent possible.
Institutionally, these methodolo-
gies offer inexpensive ways to respond
to growing pressures to be more ef-
fective with limited resources. Bu-
reaus may incorporate visualizations
to formulate better policies, imple-
ment them more effectively or pres-
ent them more compellingly. State’s
leadership should encourage adoption
and development of such practices.
At the same time, success in any
reasonable time frame will require
these technologies to be embraced by
State employees, democratizing visu-
alization. Workers need to be able to
integrate internal and external data
sources, and for this they will need to
access emerging external data aggre-
gation and social media tools, with the
latest browsers, from their desktops.
Making employees more capable
will make the Department of State
(and the other foreign affairs agen-
cies) more capable.
Chris Bronk is a fellow in Rice Uni-
versity’s James A. Baker III Institute
for Public Policy, and also teaches in
Rice’s computer science department.
A Foreign Service officer from 2002 to
2006, he served in the Office of
eDiplomacy from 2005 to 2006, where
he participated in the development of
Scott Smith, a career FSO, serves
as chief of the Diplomatic Innovation
Division in the Office of eDiplomacy.
Since joining the State Department in
1985, he has served overseas in Tokyo,
Singapore, Fukuoka, Amman, Ankara
and Beirut.