When Should Government Use Blockchain?

The Data Foundation and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton released a report today on Federal uses of blockchain, offering guidelines on when to use the tech, and examining existing agency blockchain projects for best practices.

The report lists five questions agencies should ask when looking at blockchain:

  • Does the blockchain offer a real benefit for information security, trust, or transparency?

  • Can blockchain be practically and efficiently applied?

  • What blockchain design is most appropriate?

  • Is the cost of applying blockchain merited relative to information gains?

  • Does the application satisfy applicable data sharing and confidentiality laws?

“Government has an inherent need to build, sustain, and protect public trust in information and systems. In some situations, blockchain may help enhance this trust,” the report states.

The report also details seven existing blockchain projects, and interviews leaders for each one. The projects ranged from Treasury’s pilot blockchain program to track government-owned mobile devices, to the Food and Drug Administration’s INFORMED blockchain, which aims to let cancer patients control their health data and is “the most ambitious blockchain project in the Federal government … in terms of its goals and breadth.”

“The examples clearly illustrate a range of potential use cases for blockchain technology in government,” the report states.

The Data Foundation highlighted the report as further evidence of the need for more open data in government, because of its ability to enable more blockchain projects.

“In some instances, blockchain can promote a culture that fosters information sharing. That can mean vast improvements in data production, sharing, and use, accompanied by the societal benefits that go with open data,” the organization said in its takeaways from the report.