Harnessing Knowledge, Data & Technology

Date: 04/03/2014 Description: On April 3, 2014, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah unveiled the U.S. Global Development Lab.  - State Dept Image

On April 3, 2014, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah unveiled the U.S. Global Development Lab. The Lab will foster science-and technology-based solutions to help end extreme poverty by 2030. The Lab and its 32 inaugural Cornerstone Partners will support breakthrough solutions in water, health, food security and nutrition, energy, education, and climate change. In the next five years, scientists and technology experts at The Lab will create a new global marketplace of innovations and take them to scale to reach over 200 million people.

The world’s information environment has changed dramatically. More data is generated each month than existed in all of human history prior to the year 2000. Publicly available data is an increasingly valuable source for analysis, decisions, and innovation, and today governments, people, and technology are linked in ways that were unimaginable just 20 years ago.

Both the Department and USAID have significantly changed how we take in and analyze information, communicate, and make decisions. We will leverage talent, technology, and knowledge across our organizations and strengthen collaborative problem solving.

“If your organization stores multiple petabytes of data, if the information most critical to your business resides in forms other than rows and columns of numbers, or if answering your biggest question would involve a ‘mashup’ of several analytical efforts, you've got a big data opportunity.”

– Davenport and Patil, “Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century,” Harvard Business Review, 2012.


  • Implement a knowledge management strategy at the State Department. This comprehensive strategy for sharing and integrating information, and continuously updating our technology, will encourage the use of data science in making decisions and evaluating their impact.
  • Establish a Development Information Solution at USAID. This comprehensive solution will harness data for decision-making, improve efficiencies across the entire program cycle, and connect management information from strategy to results.
  • Establish a hub for analytics, data science, strategy, and knowledge management at the Department. We will bring together the best available resources in a scalable, entrepreneurial start-up environment to solve complex problems. This hub will connect existing policy and regional expertise with advanced technical capabilities, such as diagnostics, data analysis, and design. It will integrate data from all sources (not just from within the Department, but from other government agencies and non-governmental sources) and increase the flow of information between our offices, bureaus, and overseas posts.
  • Expand Open Data opportunities. The Department and USAID will continue to implement President Obama’s Open Data policy, increasing the data resources that are available to the public and to our diplomatic and development professionals.