The Trump administration is reaffirming its commitment to blockchain as a technology with the potential to improve U.S. government operations.
Speaking at Data Transparency 2017, a conference exploring the role of open data in government this week, two senior White House officials emphasized that distributed ledger technology is increasingly being viewed as essential to U.S. policy and strategy considerations.
"With artificial intelligence and blockchain, the [White House] is exploring a whole range of forward-leaning capabilities that might be helpful to government," Margie Graves, acting federal chief information officer at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), said at the event.
The remarks are notable given that the OMB, which is headed by Congressional Blockchain Caucus co-founder Mick Mulvaney, is responsible for carrying out the president's vision for the executive branch of government – a core tenet of which is streamlining bureaucracy and improving responsiveness to citizens through technology.
In remarks, Graves – who said that she will be meeting with blockchain advocate Don Tapscott next month to discuss use cases the government might explore – stressed that she and Mulvaney view distributed ledger technology as a potentially powerful tool.
Specifically, Graves sees the possibility for its use in reducing instances of fraud and waste, cutting spending and beefing up cybersecurity defenses.
"These kinds of technologies are always something that we should explore. I don't want my customers to be the last to know, or to be the last to be able to take advantage of some of these."
Laying the foundation
Chris Liddell, assistant to the president and director of strategic initiatives at the White House, also stressed that the government must approach data management with an eye for the long term.
Perhaps most important, he said, is implementing foundational data standards now, so that the U.S. can be in position to harness the potential of blockchain and other technologies moving ahead.
"As we look to the future, we want to ensure that today's reforms do not hinder tomorrow's adoption of emerging technologies," he said, adding:
"Whether it is blockchain, artificial intelligence or perhaps a new technology that hasn't yet been envisaged, standardized data will help ensure the government stays current of technology's latest trends."
Liddell also serves in the White House Office of American Innovation (OAI), which was created by President Trump in March with a mandate to develop recommendations on how technology can be used to improve government operations.
The OIA is headed by Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, and includes Gary Cohn – the president's top economic advisor – and other leaders from government and the private sector. Liddell had previously served as chief financial officer at Microsoft and has held senior executive roles at other large public companies such as International Paper and General Motors.
Taken as a whole, the comments are the latest in a wave of bullish comments from U.S. officials on the potential for blockchain's use both inside and outside of government.
However, this is not the first time a Trump administration official has taken a bullish stance on blockchain.
In March, Mark Calabria, chief economist to Vice President Mike Pence, told a conference in Washington that there was a great enthusiasm within the Trump White House toward blockchain, hinting that progress toward adoption could be seen in the coming years.
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