Blockchain Technology Plays a Critical Role in U.S. and International Open Government Initiatives
On September 8, the U.S. government’s General Services Administration (GSA)’s program “Emerging Citizen Technology” hosted a workshop titled “Emerging Technology and Open Data for a More Open Government.” The participants in the workshop were directed to draft proposals that specifically use Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain technology and open data.
“Open data and emerging technologies — including artificial intelligence and distributed ledgers, such as blockchain — hold vast potential to transform public services held back by bureaucracy and outdated IT systems,” said Emerging Citizen Technology program manager Justin Herman. “We are opening the doors to bold, fresh ideas for government accountability, transparency and citizen participation by working with U.S. businesses, civil society groups and others to shape national goals for emerging technologies and open data in public services.”
At the workshop, several government agencies have indicated a strong government backing behind the development of blockchain technology. In particular, a representative of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated that the Trump administration was serious about and committed to this technology, and would not be deterred.
The initiative is related to the fourth National Action Plan (NAP 4), which the U.S. government is releasing this year in the the framework of the multinational Open Government Partnership (OGP) and its Open Government Declaration. It is aimed at empowering citizens and advancing the ideals of an open and participatory government.
The September 8 workshop follows the first U.S. Federal Blockchain Forum, organized by the Emerging Citizen Technology program on July 18 to discuss blockchain use cases, limitations and solutions. Financial management, procurement, IT asset and supply chain management, smart contracts, patents, trademarks, copyrights, royalties, government-issued credentials, federal personnel workforce data, appropriated funds, federal assistance, and foreign aid delivery were among the government blockchain use cases discussed at the July 18 workshop. Participation was restricted to federal agencies’ managers.
The Government Blockchain Association participated in the September 8 workshop and shared details, reported by ETHNews, on the topics discussed. In particular, three priority areas were examined: a national identity system based on blockchain and biometric technologies and interoperable across different agencies; an open government innovation initiative aimed at improving the internal operations of government agencies through blockchain technology; and a blockchain open-interface framework to connect government blockchain pilots with external data systems.
The Government Blockchain Association, open to all interested individual, corporate and institutional members, was formed to explore blockchain-based solutions to problems typically faced by government entities.
"We are currently seeing deep and informed interest in blockchain [technology] across many levels of the public sector,” said Gerard Daché, Founder and President of the Government Blockchain Association. “This time next year, I would not be surprised to see dozens of pilots, legislative resolutions, and even funding spread across the various states and high up in the U.S. Federal Government specifically for piloting blockchain based innovation.”
The Association believes that blockchain technology, Bitcoin, distributed ledgers and cryptocurrencies will fundamentally transform how the government interacts with its constituents.
"We don’t believe blockchain adoption in the public sector needs to take over ten years as some suggest it might,” Daché added. "There is an excitement that is palpable so, our goal is to harness this enthusiasm and direct it into working groups that actually influence national, state and large city governmental policies."