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US Treasury Offers Advice to Government Agencies Interested in Blockchain

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:05 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:05 PM

The US Department of the Treasury published a blog post offering advice to other government agencies that are interested in adopting blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT) in their internal systems.

The post , which was drafted by the Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS), includes several lessons that officials gleaned while experimenting with a proof of concept blockchain system.

Reflecting on the trial, the BFS advised agencies to cut through the hype surrounding blockchain technology and honestly consider whether a distributed ledger will add value to their operations. Such systems, the bureau wrote, are most useful for departments in which central gatekeeping is expensive (such as when staff must manually verify transactions) and there is less than total trust between different parties in the ecosystem.

The bureau also recommended that departments staff their projects with DLT skeptics and non-technical people to put the proposed system “through a gauntlet” to determine whether it is truly useful.

“Include both blockchain skeptics and non-technical people. A team comprised of only pro-blockchain people can be blinded by the hype and force a square peg into a round hole. Putting blockchain technology through a gauntlet to see if it reaches the other side is the best thing we can do to understand its usefulness.”

Similarly, the post advised developers to devote extensive time to interviewing stakeholders rather than leaping straight into producing the system. The BFS said that its team spent nearly half of the project analyzing its processes to discover friction points that make its current systems costly, time-consuming, and inefficient.

As CCN.com reported, the Treasury’s blockchain pilot program began in October and sought to utilize DLT-based systems to track physical assets such as computers and smartphones, and agency officials praised the technology’s ability to reduce fraud and increase efficiency.

Though not directly related, the Treasury’s financial crimes division has been tasked with enforcing President Trump’s recent executive order barring US citizens and residents from engaging with the “Petro,” a state-backed cryptocurrency issued by Venezuela. This appears to be the first time that a president has formally ordered a government agency to take action concerning a blockchain-related technology.

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