blockchain (whiteMocca/

What legislators are learning about blockchain

Over the past 15 months, the Congressional Blockchain Caucus has convened relevant stakeholders to discuss a range of issues surrounding blockchain technology. In a new report from the IBM Center for The Business of Government, Thomas Hardjono, director of the MIT Trust: Data Consortium, takes a look at three recent meetings of the caucus to distill discussion points and key takeaways.

Each of the three roundtables focused on a key theme regarding blockchain’s impact for government: digital identity, payments and supply chain, and governance.

“Government agencies are starting to see how blockchain could help the complex network of transactions that they are involved in to improve effectiveness, efficiency and security,” Dan Chenok , executive director of the IBM Center for The Business of Government, told GCN. “Our hope is to show how blockchain could be used to improve processes that driven by government and start to deliver on the potential.”

In the digital identity roundtable, the caucus heard from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, IBM, Project Indy, Sovrin Foundation and Microsoft. A NIST speaker talked about that agency's new internal testbed for exploring blockchain technologies. The test bed will use three blockchain systems for testing -- Hyperledger Fabric, MultiChain and Ethereum.

The roundtable participants determined that more research must be done around blockchain's security, privacy, scalability, consensus algorithms and quantum resistance.

In the payments roundtable, the caucus heard from Joust Bank and Ripple. That discussion focused on how financial institutions are starting to experiment with blockchain. One key point made was that the current proof-of-work paradigm for mining bitcoin would not work in the government space.

In the supply chain and governance roundtable, the caucus heard from NIST, Endor, Sweetbridge, Risk Cooperative, IBM, Seagate and the Department of Health and Human Services. Based on a presentation of NIST, the caucus members expressed an interest in learning more about the interoperability of blockchains and the agency’s work on how blockchain technology can be impacted by quantum cryptography.

An HHS speaker also talked about HHS Accelerate, a project to help control data related to expenditure transactions. That project combines cloud computing capabilities, microservices operated by HHS and a Hyperledger Fabric blockchain to track the status of business practices.

The full report can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.

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