Blockchain Technology Could Save the U.S Government Billions
In 2014, the USA today posted an article stating how $614 billion dollars had been completely missing from the 302 federal program audit. The government ran website USASpending.gov is supposed to be a transparent and accurate representation of where our tax dollars are being spent, but the Government Accountability Office found that only 2-7% of the website's data was accurate. So where is the rest of the money?
In response to this report, Jamal Brown, a spokesperson from the Office of Management and Budget, told the press, "OMB is committed to federal spending transparency and working with agencies to improve the completeness and accuracy of data submissions."
Back in 2014, the Data Act was signed by President Obama and become the nations first open data law, which requires the U.S federal government spending to be transparent to its citizens. The problem remains that of these 430 different government agencies, sub-agencies, and departments they struggle to share information with one another in a timely and accurate manner. Also, a single organization may have various databases and information is stored in various formats. With over 2 million civilian workers presently working for the govt. in the U.S, it becomes impossible to accurately track spending and activities with varied databases. Multiple databases dispersed throughout the U.S that aren't linked together isn't the government's only technical issue at hand.
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Three years ago, China hacked the data of 4 million US current and former federal employees and it was the second hack by the same Chinese agency, that year. Early this year, over 240,000 Department of Homeland Security employees has their personal data breached. While it wasn't deemed a "hack" perse, it continues to expose a major security issue within the current centralized government systems.
Blockchain technology could easily help with these two issues and many more. While it's mostly known for being the underlying technology behind Bitcoin, its applications extend far beyond just that. For those of you reading that may not understand blockchain, it is a giant ledger that is stored on thousands of computers. Think of it as a giant Excel spreadsheet that thousands have access to, people can add to a certain cell or "block" but after a set amount of time the block becomes locked forever, and the next one begins to be added to. The previous block can't ever be altered, and information from the previous blocks are varied for accuracy. Since the data from each block is kept of thousands of computers, it makes it impossible for data to be hacked as the hacker would have to hack 51% of the "nodes" or computers running the blockchain individually.
Presently, there are companies using blockchain technology to revolutionize Supply Chain Management, Healthcare, Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, and various other sectors in everyday life. Governments have even begun testing the technology. Canada is testing the technology for enabling their citizens to publically view their grant and funding spending. A country in West Africa, Sierra Leone, just completed their first election that ran on the blockchain. Russia is presently testing blockchain technology for a government-run payment system, as well as voting.
It may feel like a daunting task, as complex as the U.S government may be but this could easily be a solution to many issues currently holding back the government. The Pentagon's most recent mistake of losing $800 million wouldn't have happened if blockchain technology was used, as everything would remain accounted for. If America plans on digging itself out of it's infinite debt to the rest of the world, they better take this emerging technology seriously. Last month, the House of Representative held a joint hearing named, "Beyond Bitcoin: Emerging Applications for Blockchain Technology."
If you're an American citizen, like myself, and you happen to be reading this, I'm sure you've experienced the useless IRS customer service a time or two or have even stood countless hours in line at the post office only to be greeted by the most unhappy and unpleasant employee. More efficient underlying systems that are able to process transactions quickly and securely will make all parties much happier. Let's all cross our fingers, say a prayer, or even write to our local state representatives to push our government towards this new technology. It could be - "HUGE." (Sorry, I had to!)
Thoughts? Comments? Concerns?
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