The Department of Homeland Security posted a solicitation for proposals for companies that can improve government processes using the blockchain. Accepted proposals would receive up to $800,000 in government funding.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a U.S. federal government cabinet department. The department is responsible for U.S. public security and includes anti-terrorism, border security, cybersecurity, and disaster prevention efforts.
On Nov. 15th, the government published a solicitation call on behalf of the DHS. The solicitation details a call for contractors who can develop blockchain powered solutions to key government problems.
More specifically, the agency is primarily looking to identify proposals that can solve the following problems around government issued certificates, licenses, and attestations:
- Storage and Management
- Issuance and Verification
- Ease-of-Use of Government Credentials
According to the solicitation, the DHS believes that blockchain and distributed ledgers have the potential to improve government processes and positively impact U.S. citizens. As stated in the document:
“Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology, from a government perspective, holds the potential for enhanced transparency and auditing of public service operations, greater visibility into multi-party business operations, and automation of paper-based processes to improve delivery of services to organizations and citizens.”
The agency describes the technology as something that could potentially “deliver cost-effective and innovative solutions” to public security. Moreover, the agency is open to rolling-out solutions to all of its major operational divisions, including customs and border protection, citizenship and immigration, and transportation security.
What’s further reassuring is that the DHS is interested in keeping developments in these areas accessible to the public, and possibly even completely open-source:
“. . .all technology developed will be publicly documented, patent-free, royalty-free, available to all, and free to implement using widely available and supported programming languages.”
Contractors that are selected in the process would be eligible for up to $800,000 in funding split over four phases. The DHS is looking for applicants at any stage of development and is willing to fund projects from proof-of-concept all the way to commercialization and implementation.
What this Means for Blockchain
Blockchain technology is ideal for government uses. Many of a blockchain’s properties, including public accessibility, immutability, and inherent transparency make it perfect for record-keeping.
Everything from government-issued deeds, birth certificates, and passports could be improved using blockchain.
Given the number of different government applications, it is critical that governments internationally explore the application of the technology. Although the United States is behind several other smaller countries, the move by the DHS could be indicative of more widespread use of the technology in large governments.
At the moment, none of the major governments in Europe or North America have implemented a system built using the technology. However, there are several smaller countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Estonia, and Venezuela that are pioneering large-scale use cases.
The move provides further validation that blockchain is valuable outside of cryptocurrency. If major governments are willing to invest money into developing the technology, then that conveys that the technology is more than just hype.
The deadline for the first round of proposals closes Jan. 11, 2019.