We don’t want government employees to just make things up as they go along. In theory if not always in practice, we expect that our government will create rules that we can see and follow those rules reliably. The hallmark of government is consistency, and that makes blockchain technology perfect for government.
For instance, no matter where I live, I need a license from my government to drive a car, under a consistent standard established by law and policy. The government employees who verify that I meet that standard follow the same procedures for me as they did for the person before me and the person who comes next.
It’s so important to us that our government functions consistently and predictably that we create multiple layers of review… supervisors, auditors, courts, legislative committees and various sunshine laws… so that we can check and re-check the work that the government does on our behalf. These all verify that the government is using three key elements: 1) shared facts and 2) published rules that are 3) consistently executed. Blockchain operates on these same three elements.
As politicians love to say to each other, “everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.” For my child to attend a public school I must prove that I live within that school’s boundary area. This amounts to the school district and I agreeing to the shared fact of my place of residence, usually by referencing information stored in a third system such as a utility or leasing company database. Blockchain works in the same way. The parties, using multiple forms of assurance, agree that the blockchain ledger has integrity. This allows them to reference that information with confidence.
People everywhere want their government to publish its laws and policies. What is the voting age? Am I required to serve in the military? What is the fine for parking where I shouldn’t? A blockchain-based system always publishes its rules in a form called a “smart contract”. Just as I expect that the laws and policies governing my city are available to review, those smart contracts are available for review. The rules cannot be changed or bypassed without notifying all stakeholders, so there is never any question what the rule is (or was at a prior time).
Even when we don’t like the rules, we want to know that they are carried out the same way every time for everyone. We don’t want Wilma to pay a different sales tax than Fred when buying the same item. Because blockchain smart contracts execute the same way, every time, we know that they are applied the same way every time. Even better, blockchain protects every transaction record in a way that can’t be tampered with and can make those records available (appropriately) for inspection to those supervisors, auditors, legislators, judges and citizens.
Many governments are finding ways to reach new levels of auditability, accountability, and transparency using blockchain technologies. Across the world, governments are using or exploring blockchain for identity documents, vehicle registration, business licensing, benefits, education records, and COVID test results. The World Economic Forum recommends blockchain for public procurement, land title registries, electronic voting, corporate registries, and grant disbursements. The reason is simple… blockchain by its nature does what governments at all levels, in all nations, need to do: operate on a set of shared facts and published rules that are consistently executed.