The State Department is standing up a cloud program office and taking the opportunity to modernize both systems across the department, according to Brian Merrick, deputy director of cloud program management at the State Department.

“We’ve been dealing with the cloud for quite some time, but we’re finally at the point now where it’s a large enough impact that we’re trying to rationalize that across all of our environments,” said Merrick during an interview with Government Matters TV on Sunday. “Our role is to be a facilitator, a broker, and also a service provider. We’ll have a whole host of capabilities with multiple vendor offerings.”

The State Department is looking to cloud across the whole gamut, from modernized systems that support operations to front line solutions.

“In respect to the back-office functions, yes, we’re looking to modernize those with re-platforming, making sure that we’re finding more efficient ways to manage those and consolidate like requirements, but we’re also looking to innovate quite a bit, with a view towards the mobile diplomat,” said Merrick.

Merrick offered the example of monitoring foreign elections as an area where cloud-based solutions have already helped.

“Typically, in the past, folks from the post would have to coordinate with nongovernmental organizations and host country organizations, and their own sort of oversight teams, and it’s very difficult to do that from your desk. We rolled out a collaborative toolset from a SaaS (software-as-a-service) solution which enabled the folks at post to configure the porting they needed, to configure the communication they needed, they could 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 three percent margin of error” said Merrick.

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