The newly-formed Government Blockchain Association is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit corporation that wants to create relationships “between and among technologists, public policy makers, application specialists and those who simply need to understand the new and emerging digital currencies that will change the world.”
GBA Vice President Dan Callahan shares the vision and mission.
For those unfamiliar with blockchain, what’s your ‘simple’ answer?
As a member-driven professional association, we have a fairly broad mission statement; that is to help governments across the world to understand and use blockchain technology to improve their processes.
Essentially, this is to reinvent government bureaucracy with a better, faster and cheaper (and more secure) set of solutions.
What areas are obvious for government blockchain usage?
When you think about the endless tasks, challenges and missions that governments must deal with, it boggles the mind. Here in America, government agency mission creep—at all levels, has occurred over the last four to five decades and it never seems to be easy or inexpensive to improve. But we must find new ways to make our public agencies more responsive and help them better leverage the public monies with which they are entrusted.
My favorite use of blockchain is the prevention of fraud in the distribution of what are called transfer payments. These are payments such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, welfare, and other benefits.
I also see grants through organizations such as the United Nations as another area where, without too much effort, we can use blockchain to significantly eliminate billions of dollars in fraud.
We will periodically publish a list of use cases to our members; recently, even a U.S. Congressman offered to “compare notes” with us so we can keep each other updated on the most interesting and compelling use cases.
What was the story and inspiration for starting Government Blockchain Association?
As president of the association, Gerard Dache is the visionary, and I have about three decades of federal IT experience. His vision began to solidify when one of his sons made some very interesting gains in the bitcoin space. After a couple of years, Gerard realized that there is truly something here worth levering in a much broader way. Who doesn’t want better government, right?
So, in the Winter of 2016-2017, he approached me and asked to help build-out the vision.
What is the Government Blockchain Association and why now?
We want to maintain a niche focus on the nexus of blockchain and its application across the public sector. At times this is too broad, but at other times it’s a niche when compared to the general IT marketplace and some of the other associations that exist. The timing is good since we are absolutely seeing public sector agencies taking a real and substantive look at using blockchain, and in some international cases, they are already becoming mature.
What’s next for GBA?
Our first threshold was to attract individual professionals. In a matter of weeks we attracted about eight hundred who agree with our mission and believe they can contribute. Our next phase, beginning mid-summer 2017, is to attract corporate members who can also contribute. I believe we’ll see small, medium and large corporations jumping in soon, because they see that the future of blockchain is not merely hype.
How can others interested connect and learn more?
We intentionally try to keep membership and event fees low. As any nonprofit would desire, we want to provide a high value in return for reasonable membership fees, but I stress to all members, get involved in any way possible. Become a part of the conversation, the networking, the working groups, publish your ideas, start a GBA Chapter in a city where is there currently not a chapter. These kind of things really help members get their money’s worth.