dashboard on tablet (Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com)

OPM’s DIY COVID dashboard

Earlier this year when the Office Personnel Management’s facilities management operations team needed data on the COVID’s spread, it built a sharable dashboard with Python, a credit card and a scalable cloud buy.

As the pandemic emerged and spread, the facilities team "was manually scraping data off of the internet, state and federal government websites about COVID cases" so it could determine when it would be safe to re-open some agency facilities, said Akanksha Sharma, senior advisor to the agency's CIO.

"They had done a great job, creating an Excel spreadsheet, but it took them two to three hours a day and there was never truly an up-to-date version" of the data dashboard, Sharma said in remarks in a Sept. 23 cloud and infrastructure webcast held by the General Services Administration's Technology Transformation Service.

The facilities team came to the CIO for help. OPM's CIO office and the agency's Center of Excellence team developed a solution that tapped open source data and a custom-developed Python application to produce an easy-to-use, auto-updating dashboard, according to Sharma.

After the dashboard app developed, Sharma looked to the cloud to make it easily accessible within the agency.

"This is the very kind of use case that cloud really excels at -- shortening the time to market" she said.

The initial cloud buy was small, done with a federal purchase card, Sharma said, but it could be the foundation for an enterprise cloud.

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


  • business meeting (Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com)

    Civic tech volunteers help states with legacy systems

    As COVID-19 exposed vulnerabilities in state and local government IT systems, the newly formed U.S. Digital Response stepped in to help. Its successes offer insight into existing barriers and the future of the civic tech movement.

  • data analytics (Shutterstock.com)

    More visible data helps drive DOD decision-making

    CDOs in the Defense Department are opening up their data to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that help surface insights and improve decision-making.

Stay Connected