The Foreign Service Journal, April 2021

14 APRIL 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL and pictures, and enhanced team col- laboration technologies for international development work, election monitoring, disaster reporting, security and budgeting. Drone technology, for example, could be particularly helpful for the Population, Refugees, and Migration Bureau to moni- tor Syrian refugees on the border, capture aerial images of population density and provide real-time analytics. Technological preparedness should not be taken lightly. When the COVID- 19 pandemic struck, the telework envi- ronment revealed an underequipped workforce. The 90-day Reimagine Task Force was a step in the right direction to increase adaptivity and workforce resil- ience. The Biden administration has an opportunity to modernize State Depart- ment technology. n For an “Administrative” Dissent Channel BY BRENDAN M. RIVAGE-SEUL I appreciated all the insightful notes to the new administration in the March FSJ , and would like to add one of my own on the subject of constructive dissent. There is a growing sense among State personnel that the department’s Dissent Channel (for policy), established in 1971, was an important, but ultimately incom- plete breakthrough in U.S. foreign policy accountability. Still desperately needed, 50 years later, is a parallel structure for our professionals in Washington and the technological revolution, his team needed appropriate tools. When it comes to technological inno- vation to support modern-day diplo- macy, the State Department consistently lags. In a world where démarches are delivered on WhatsApp, cyberattacks are common, and mobile technologies are essential for on-the-road diplomats, it behooves the department to stay ahead of the technological curve. I recommend the Biden administra- tion take the following three steps. Establish a Research & Develop- ment Office. The Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) is the principal entity charged with supply- ing and maintaining the State Depart- ment’s technological needs, from secure networks to department-issued mobile phones. Dr. Glen Johnson, IRM chief technology officer, noted that the depart- ment needs to break away from “the need has to arise” mentality. IRM suffers from underfunding, and this prevents it from assuming new initiatives or venturing into new technologies. Having an office dedicated solely to research and development within IRM will allow the State Department to experi- ment with cutting-edge technologies. With the establishment of the Cyber- space Security and Emerging Technolo- gies Bureau, there are opportunities for partnerships to secure cyberspace and critical technologies, as well as reduce the likelihood of cyber conflict. Consolidate IT under the depart- ment’s chief information officer. State needs a one-stop-shop bureau for all operational IT needs. Indeed, the lack of an information-sharing apparatus is a vulnerability. IT experts are scattered across bureaus, functioning in silos, focused only on applications on which they are trained. Global Talent Manage- ment, Consular Affairs, Public Diplo- macy, and Diplomatic Security all have their own separate IT units. Despite their distinct organizational and leadership structures, however, bureau IT specialists could collaborate and share information. For example, other bureaus can lever- age IRM’s partnerships with Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon. Emphasize greater technological experi- mentation. IRM has made great strides in artificial intelligence to speed department operations, reduce operational redundan- cies through automation, and provide greater remote capabilities through cloud networking. The challenge, however, is convincing early adopters to experiment with these technologies. Also, limited bud- gets, lack of understanding, and bureau- cratic challenges within organizational cultures are often the source of hesitation in adopting new technologies. There is untapped potential for visu- alization software, mapping with photos Mariya Ilyas joined the U.S. Foreign Service in September 2018 and is currently serving her first tour in the consular section in Amman. diplomats overseas to convey via front- channel cable why certain administrative policies do not make sense or are not in the department’s interest (operationally, financially, culturally or otherwise), and recommend changes. For those unfamiliar, the Dissent Channel is a tool that empowers State and USAID personnel to confidentially express “dissenting or alternative views on substantive issues of policy” (2 FAM 070). By congressional mandate, depart- ment policy dictates that the Office of