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Communities forming around blockchain for government

With the General Services Administration looking into blockchain use cases and projects in Illinois and Delaware underway, leaders at the Government Blockchain Association and DC Blockchain Center are bringing together industry stakeholders and government officials to learn how they can use the distributed ledger technology.

Gerard Dache founded GBA last summer as a result of his work as appraiser for large government IT contracts.  He started by holding networking events in Arlington, Va., but interest has grown so much that the association plans to open chapters in Denver, Atlanta, New York, Dallas, San Antonio and West Palm Beach, Fla.  GBA also  has formed working groups related to health care, education, energy, budgeting and supply chain. 

“In these working groups, we invite public-sector professionals to join who have government blockchain uses and requirements,” Dache, who is also GBA’s president, told GCN.  They're for "members at government agencies who want to understand how this technology is going to impact them and individuals and companies that are already in the space or want to grow.”

Some early interest has come from the Federal Maritime Commission, which is interested in using blockchain with its licensing and permitting process, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In September, GBA is launching training and certifications in blockchain development, consulting and business analysis and transformational leadership. 

“While there are isolated use cases of government doing stuff, most people are still learning about blockchain,” Dache said.  “This technology is going to represent major paradigm shifts, and we are going to need leaders who can understand how this is going to shift governance for government agencies.”

DC Blockchain Center

Another group bringing government and industry together is the DC Blockchain Center.  Founded in September 2016, the center is an extension of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, a trade association for the blockchain industry. It works  with global technology incubator 1776  to bring government agencies and industry stakeholders together to collaborate on public-sector use cases.

“The center is an entrepreneurial resource for technology providers in government who are investing and innovating in blockchain-based technologies,” Chamber of Digital Commerce President Perianne Boring said.  “It is a goal for us to see blockchain make its way into the public sector, and we believe center will also be a powerful force in terms of our advocacy work on the policy side.”

The Chamber of Digital Commerce was founded in 2014 amid negative publicity over the failure of the bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox and the FBI's shutdown of the online black market Silk Road, which conducted all transactions in bitcoins.  Over the past three years, the association has worked to show regulators, law enforcement and lawmakers the benefits of blockchain.  “We launched our organization when sentiment was the lowest in Washington three years ago, and we have been able to do a complete 180 in terms of the dialogue,” Boring said.  “As we have seen folks in government settings become educated, several people … have said that this could benefit their agency or department from an implementation perspective.”

In June, the chamber launched the Chicago Blockchain Center to bring local businesses together with government agencies.

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 sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.


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