Office of Analytics: The Silicon Valley of State Dept.

Office of Analytics was definitely one of the coolest offices I feel lucky to have worked at the State Department. We had the open spaces, the tech tools, the Macbooks, and the nerf guns. We were housed under the Office of Public Engagement, but the difference was that we engaged the foreign audiences, not domestic. We helped our diplomats in DC and embassies to develop interesting projects or help supplement their diplomacy objectives by building digital networks and partnerships with foreign communities.

I sat in the role of editing our communications products and strategizing our marketing efforts. Our foundational areas of experiences included data science and analytics drawing from the private sector.

We also worked with outside vendors attending tech meet-ups such as DCode. Some of the tools we acquired tools for the Department included Crimson Hexagon and CrowdTangle. 

In the Spring of 2018 as President Trump was about to head to the  North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit, we led a project with colleagues in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs to counter disinformation sponsored or owned by the non-state or Russian government.

Visualisation of the Russian amplification network
Source: https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/177273.htm

Russia sponsors content through state or cyber-enabled platforms through RT, Sputnik, Life, and Vkontake, a European online social media with Russian speakers. The messaging often questioned the legitimacy of NATO as an alliance.

My main job was to emphasize U.S. commitment to NATO in the lead-up to the NATO Summit and counter Kremlin-backed disinformation that undermine trust in NATO among key U.S. ally audiences in Western and Eastern European countries.

The project went on for 3 months with many different types of media in four different languages. I didn’t love having to be up and running in different time zones, but I really loved the types of experiments I could run on so many different platforms.

The more difficult part of the project came after – measuring the effect and the impact – we used keyword-based to capture the tone, the type of audience, the engagement, and the outlet analysis. The type of emotion that we got from the engagement was also very interesting.

A fun fact is that this office was born out of a backseat of a car conversation between Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.

Since I left, Office of Analytics was rebooted into the Center for Analytics and the Global Engagement Center at State. Although it no longer remains as it is, I have very fond memories of it, and to me, it will always be remembered as the techiest office with the cool guns.