State Department tech leader says pace of operational demands has helped to spur cloud transition

Brian Merrick says change at the agency has in part been driven by the need to operationalize activities very quickly.
Brian Merrick, State Department
Brian Merrick speaks Jan. 14, 2020, at the Data Cloud Summit presented by Cloudera and produced by FedScoop. (Scoop News Group)

The increased pace of operational demands, including from events unfolding overseas, have played a key role in changing the structure of cloud service delivery at the State Department, according to Brian Merrick.

Speaking Thursday, the director of cloud programs at State said the speed of events have in part helped make the case for wholesale organizational change across the department’s IT functions and for sub-agencies to collaborate more effectively on their computational needs. 

“In today’s day and age we are facing unprecedented expectations: speed of delivery, speed of information, the need for data analytics to drive decisions at very senior levels. The need to operationalize activities very quickly,” Merrick said The cloud director was speaking at VMware’s Public Sector Innovation Summit, hosted by FedScoop. “That has forced us to change our organizational structures and approach to technology, to really partner closely with the mission and move out of the traditional IT frame we are talking about and really really understand what’s driving our customers … moving them from being a customer to being a partner.”

The comments come as the agency continues with its transition to the cloud and as it works to implement a three-year data strategy announced in September last year. That strategy is centered on four goals including the cultivation of a data-focused culture, accelerated decision-making through analytics, and enhanced data governance, according to policy documents published Monday.


In its strategy at the time, the State Department said its plans would include hiring new staff with data expertise and changes to how it uses metrics to assess the efficacy of agency programs.

John Hewitt Jones

Written by John Hewitt Jones

John is the managing editor of FedScoop, and was previously a reporter at Institutional Investor in New York City. He has a master’s degree in social policy from the London School of Economics and his writing has appeared in The Scotsman and The Sunday Times of London newspapers.

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