With updated IT strategic plan, USAID tech is a driver of mission, not compliance, CIO says

"It's about making sure that we're supporting the missions and enabling and empowering them," CIO Jason Gray said of the role of USAID's IT.
A UN worker takes a box containing sanitation kits and soap provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) being stored at a UN school before a distribution to Palestinian displaced people on August 15, 2014 in Gaza City. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

LAS VEGAS — With the U.S. Agency for International Development’s issuance of a new IT strategic plan in December, the agency has created a new vision for its technology management that better drives mission outcomes rather than checking the box for compliance, according to its top IT official.

“In the last year, we have updated our strategic plan to focus on making sure that everyone understands our alignment with the mission itself. It’s not just about compliance. It’s not just about following the law. Yes, it is about following the law. But it’s not just about that,” USAID CIO Jason Gray said during a panel Tuesday at Google Cloud’s annual tech conference Next. “It’s about making sure that we’re supporting the missions and enabling and empowering them.”

USAID’s IT strategic plan, which runs from 2024 through 2028, is built around five pillars: “creating a culture of data- and insights-based decision making; delivering agile, secure, and resilient IT platforms; building worldwide skills and capacity; establishing pragmatic governance; and driving high operational performance.”

Gray said USAID’s journey to adopt cloud has been “critical” in better connecting tech to mission in recent years, namely by making it easier to connect and collaborate in austere environments around the world where USAID is called to deliver aid.


“Some of the areas and countries that we operate in, even getting power, reliable power is a massive challenge,” he said, adding that there are also “bandwidth concerns or severe latency.”

When Gray joined USAID as CIO in 2022, the agency was already well on its way to adopting cloud and had an existing partnership with Google Cloud — one that he credits as key in fostering communication and collaboration across international lines while taking care of the basic security requirements.

“Being able to collaborate across the world in real-time through the document management [tool], the security … is absolutely critical, as well,” Gray said. “And knowing that you are encrypting data in use, in transit, at rest” has been critical “because we’re complying, yes, we’re securing things but also enabling our end users to communicate with the implementing partners in the areas that we operate in.”

USAID was recognized in February by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., ranking member on the House Oversight Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation, as the only federal agency to receive an A grade on the latest FITARA scorecard.

Billy Mitchell

Written by Billy Mitchell

Billy Mitchell is Senior Vice President and Executive Editor of Scoop News Group's editorial brands. He oversees operations, strategy and growth of SNG's award-winning tech publications, FedScoop, StateScoop, CyberScoop, EdScoop and DefenseScoop. After earning his journalism degree at Virginia Tech and winning the school's Excellence in Print Journalism award, Billy received his master's degree from New York University in magazine writing while interning at publications like Rolling Stone.

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