Known primarily as a global news organization, Thomson Reuters also serves as a source of mission-critical intelligence and analysis tools to U.S. federal agencies.
“We bring together global content, technology, subject-matter expert analysts, and data engineers to help agencies do mission-critical work,” said Stephen Rubley. He’s president of the government division of Canadian-owned Thomson Reuters, and also CEO of Thomson Reuters Special Services LLC, the U.S.-based subsidiary.
By applying leading-edge technology to vast tracts of open-source intelligence, the company supports a range of key government functions.
“We have global news, and then we also curate all that content from around the globe to help drive insights for specific uses,” Rubley said.
Take, for example, risk and fraud in areas such as health care, social services programs and benefits administration.
“As we found out during the pandemic, there’s been quite a bit of misuse and fraud in those programs,” Rubley said. “By combining AI with public data, we are able to identify suspect individuals or companies, and help government to prevent that money from going out.”
Machine learning helps surface possible identity-based fraud in financial transactions, and can also be leveraged to help law enforcement to crack down on things like child abduction and human trafficking.
“Instead of taking a whack-a-mole approach to illicit massage parlors, government can try to really shut this down,” Rubley said. “With our help, they can look at the networks, look at public data not just in the U.S. but around the world. They can view this as a very organized activity — which it is — and address the problem more holistically.”
While government has some in-house tools available to support this approach, Thomson Reuters brings to the table a combination of data and expertise in support of deeper insights.
“We understand the data and we own most of the data,” Rubley said. “We have tools to help make sure this John Smith is the same as that John Smith. And we have subject matter expert analysts that we hire with clearances. Our fraud experts come out of the state Medicaid fraud programs. We have former analysts from the government or financial sector who look at money laundering.”
On top of this, the organization delivers a high level of technical expertise.
“Our data scientists can take billions of records and sift it down to a manageable number for the analysts to work on,” Rubley said. “That’s a force multiplier for the government.”
The company has been especially focused on supporting the federal law enforcement and homeland security communities.
“They’re very interested in supply chain information,” Rubley said. “We are also engaged with the social service agencies, those working in the benefit entitlement space.”
On the business development side, there is ample demand for this kind of data-driven capability across federal agencies. Internally, Rubley is focused on the human element.
COVID-inspired workforce changes “are challenging for every company right now,” he said. “What drives people, what makes them want to stay? I’m constantly thinking about the culture that we need to have in order to succeed in this environment.”
Within Rubley’s team, mission impact has proven to be among the biggest motivators, driving retention and pushing people to excel.
“Because we’re so close to the agencies, we get to see the impact of our work,” he said. “It’s not like we’re sending over a tool and saying, ‘Good luck!’ Our data engineers hear the stories, they see the outcomes.”
In one case, Rubley said his team helped find 26 girls trafficked during the Super Bowl. The team worked with a law enforcement task force and its own people were down there to help rescue these girls.
When you have those kinds of stories to tell, “it helps everyone on the team to feel like they’re making a bigger impact with what they’re doing,” he said.
To expand on the impact, Thomson Reuters recently purchased Case Lines, a company whose technology helps to bring courts into the digital age.
“We’re taking them to where hearings and even trials can be conducted either completely virtual or in a hybrid setting, where digital evidence can be collected and displayed in a meaningful way,” Rubley said. “We have a saying, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’ This accelerates the process for everyone, and makes it more accessible.”
On a personal level, Rubley said his 30 years of serving the public sector have given him a special appreciation for the importance of the government’s work, especially in the law enforcement arena.
“Years ago, we had only little nuggets of data to help with things like child exploitation, child abduction,” he said. “Seeing the impact we can make today, it makes me feel really good. I’m so proud to be partnering with the government on these big challenges.”