The GSA Explores New Blockchain Initiative

In an effort to promote its Emerging Citizen Technology program, the General Services Administration (GSA) has announced a federal blockchain pilot initiative. The goal of the program is to cater to citizen inquiries about government-related services, ultimately handling the job of customer service representatives.

The program’s lead, Justin Herman, tells Federal News Radio in an interview:

“We’ve started talking with agencies. We’ve started working with companies. We’ve started just listening and going around and starting to identify what are those business cases and those needs that distributed ledger systems that blockchain provides and those technologies provide –  How can that impact government?”

Herman explains that the initiative was kick-started through talks with US agencies that have all co-signed increase use of blockchain technology, however, despite the progressivism of these various “pockets” in the US government, Herman explains there is a lack of efficiency when it comes to emerging technology adoption. The GSA hopes to apply itself as a mediator.

“What we’ve got to do is make sure that we’re opening up and articulating our business cases in a way that effectively and efficiently open us up for US businesses to provide these emerging technology solutions,” said Herman

According to Federal News Radio, GSA is working alongside 30 agencies to explore how they can integrate their data into artificially intelligent smart devices, such as Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistant, and IBM Watson.

Furthermore, this summer, the GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service and the State Department’s Office of Global Partnerships will hold a forum to discuss emerging technologies and implementation of pilot programs. According to Herman, the project is currently in “discovery mode” which involves government being open to suggestions from businesses interested in providing emerging technology solutions.

“We want to learn from lessons of the past and make sure that when we’re moving forward as a federal government and we’re working with US businesses, that we’re also doing so in a way that’s mutually beneficial, because ultimately the person who is going to win there is the taxpayer.”