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Wanted: examples of blockchain in government (both ones that worked, and ones that didn’t)

The OECD is working with a blockchain expert on research on the uncertain promise of blockchain for government. As part of the research, we are interested in collecting public sector experiences on 1) successful government blockchain projects that have moved to the implementation phase and have users; 2) interesting government blockchain projects that will be implemented in the near future; and 3) stories and lessons learned from projects that did not reach the implementation phase or gain users. Please email your experiences to [email protected].

The OECD maintains an ongoing interest in the use of blockchain technology, including through the ongoing activities of the Blockchain Policy Centre. Specifically for the public sector, OPSI and the Digital Government team respectively have published Blockchain Technology and Its Use in the Public Sector (2018) and State of the Art in the Use of Emerging Technologies in the Public Sector (2019). The former identified over 200 interesting blockchain-related initiatives in 46 countries, and although more projects appear every year, not all of them are delivering on their ambitions. Indeed, as discussed in a recent blog post, evidence of large-scale disruptive innovations in government are missing, especially projects that have moved to implementation and gained users beyond testing. Many projects are stuck at the proof-of-concept, prototype, or pilot stage, or have fizzled out entirely. This, combined with blockchain sector controversies, has led to skepticism among many government officials.

We believe this skepticism must be taken seriously and investigated in more detail to determine whether it is warranted. With this research, we hope to provide more information about the specific use cases and government actors who have managed to reach the implementation stage of blockchain projects, as well as those who have struggled to implement the technology. The plan is to cut through the hype in order to discuss the current state of the uncertain promise of a blockchain for the government.

We are now approaching you for your assistance in collecting experiences and perspectives from teams that have engaged with blockchain. We are looking for details on three things in particular (in the order of importance):

  1. successful blockchain use cases for the public sector that have moved to the implementation phase and that have users
  2. actual public sector blockchain use cases that will be moved to production in the near future (within 4 months), and
  3. stories and lessons learned that you would like to share about projects that did not reach the implementation phase or gain users. There are many reasons why blockchain projects may not have worked out, and we would like to hear about them in order to help others learn.

If you’re interested, please e-mail me ([email protected]) with your story in confidence, and I will get back to you.

I am also interested in any further leads, so do not hesitate to get in touch. Also, do not hesitate to forward this announcement to your interested peers.