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OPM prototypes blockchain-based records transfer

When an employee moves from one agency to another, it can take up to two months for the Office of Personnel Management to transfer that person's digital records.  Using blockchain, though, could trim the process to a few minutes.

Once federal employees have a single digital record that follows them throughout their careers, blockchain can be used to show changes to that record in real time. 

“We are looking for ways to have access to the data immediately,” David Vargas, director of OPM's Human Resource Line of Business, said at a May 24 IBM event. “I can figure out a way to get the data as transactions are approved."

Vargas said he became interested in using blockchain to build a prototype after his chief technology architect suggested the distributed ledger could be used to make agency transfers and retirements easier. 

“I went to my investment review board with the idea, and I asked for limited authority and resources to test this out,” Vargas said. In “less than a two-month period,” he said, OPM was able to prove that the transfer of an employee digital record through blockchain was possible.

OPM expressed an interest in using blockchain in its September 2017 employee digital record request for information. It asked for information on a blockchain data exchange architecture with data components both off chain and on chain.

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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