My information technology background (knowledge management to SEC compliance software) makes this story interesting to me. Without comment, here’s an article from a magazine I subscribed to long ago, InformationWeek:
A State Department pilot project using Business Objects’ planning and budgeting software aims to prove that overseas anti-Americanism reduction programs are working.
The State Department last year spent $357 million on diplomacy programs designed to create a positive image of the United States in other parts of the world. These include summer camp programs for kids in the Middle East, the American Corners information libraries at various U.S. embassies, and speaking engagements by American celebrities.
But in 2006, the OMB gave the State Department a poor rating on its ability to measure the effectiveness of those diplomacy programs.
n 2007, staffers visited the State Department’s outposts in Japan, Israel, Germany, Nigeria, Ecuador, Palestinian territories, and India. It surveyed a sample of 1,800 foreign audience members, some of whom had participated in a diplomacy program and some who had not, for a comparison study to measure attitudes about the United States. Those results were then used to develop focus groups to get more qualitative, detailed data.
All of this resulted in a difficult-to-digest 300-page report. So the division created a Public Diplomacy Impact dashboard accessible on the State Department’s intranet, based on Business Objects Xcelsius data-visualization software. The dashboard provides State Department executives with budget details, plus how far it’s come in achieving its six outcome measures based on survey data.
For example, 64% of survey respondents with influential community roles — such as youth, community and religious leaders, academics, journalists, bloggers, and even cartoonists — said they were taking concrete measures to initiate positive change in their communities following their involvement in diplomacy efforts.
Now the public diplomacy division has started a pilot program to get more detailed expenditure information from its various outposts around the world. Its goal is to demonstrate, for example, why youth summer camps in the Middle East require more funding than some in other countries because of higher transportation, staffing, and translation resources costs.
Montgomery said the pilot program is a delicate balance, as the recently established performance and measurement unit she runs tries to collect such data as transportation, advertising, equipment, and utilities costs, and details on staffing numbers and hours, without overburdening staffers outside the United States with data collection.
The results of that work will later appear under a tab on the Public Diplomacy Impact dashboard call What-If Analysis. Or what the State Department could do if it received even more funding for diplomacy efforts.