Blockchain to Help Department of State Reorganize

October 16, 2017

Earlier this summer, we wrote about how the Department of Defense is eyeing blockchain technology to improve cybersecurity.

Now, Meritalk reveals that the State Department is also seeking the use of blockchain (the technology behind digital currency like Bitcoin) to protect its cyber infrastructure, improve its IT platforms and restructure the agency.

Hot on the heels of the Trump administration’s March 2017 executive order for agencies to eliminate waste through agency reevaluation and reorganization, the State Department is planning to integrate blockchain into this effort.

We’re interested to learn whether blockchain technology could have direct applications to many of the key features of our proposed redesign plan–for example, in maximizing the impact and accountability of foreign assistance,” said John J. Sullivan, deputy secretary of State, said at the George C. Marshall Center Blockchain Forum on Oct. 10.

Two major challenges in foreign assistance that blockchain technology could address are, first, corruption, fraud, or misappropriation of funds and, second, inefficiencies within the aid delivery process itself.”

In the forum, State Department representatives participated in a series of breakout sessions to learn how blockchain can aid cybersecurity, through data encryption, immutable ledgers, and decentralization.  The Department is also looking to partner with the private sector to help agencies use the technology effectively.

What is Blockchain Technology?

A blockchain is essentially a distributed database, like a spreadsheet or ledger, duplicated across a network.  Transactions or other important data are written and stored in blocks of data.  Each transaction depends on previous transactions, and each is validated by a consensus of participating systems.  For an individual or group to corrupt the data, they would need more computing power, operating at a higher speed, than the rest of the participating systems combined.  This makes the entries in the blockchain ledger extremely difficult to change without proper authorization, leading many to call and blockchain ledgers “immutable”.  Blockchain technologies are both open source and very secure – two factors driving the current rapid pace of adoption in industry and government.