Rhode Island has issued an RFP looking for private sector partners that can work with state government to put public services on the blockchain. Suggested areas of application in the RFP include antifraud, contracts, medical marijuana, records, notarization, registration and licensing, investigative evidence control and more.
The initial contract period is slated to begin in August.
Rhode Island says that if it can find technology partners to build proofs of concept the state will be able to understand the maturity of blockchain technologies and platforms, as well as potential sustainability in state government operations.
Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that records and shares each transaction that occurs in a network, resulting in a more secure, decentralized system. The most commonly known way to use blockchain technology is with digital currencies, but the Rhode Island is looking to explore other ways to use it to enhance efficiency, transparency, accuracy, security and business-friendliness within state government.
Part of the RFP process will be helping policymakers and technology officials understand if shifting to blockchain enabled systems might be more budget friendly over the long term. Officials are also looking at ways to build partnerships with local governments and the federal government to incubate use cases for the technology.
“This is really the first step to see what’s out there and if blockchain technology can help improve government processes in the future,” said state Chief Information Officer/Chief Digital Officer Bijay Kumar. “I am excited to see the possibilities and to learn more about how this new technology is helping other public and private entities reach new levels of innovation in business, security and other areas.”
Rhode Island joins a growing list of states that are examining how blockchain can be used for public service. As CivSource previously reported, Delaware signed a contract with IBM last year to develop a blockchain enabled version of its corporate records filing system. Delaware is a top jurisdiction for corporate registrations and the pilot project with IBM will help officials determine if it should be a statewide system. Supporters of the pilot claim that blockchain could help reduce human error in corporate filings.
In May, Colorado named its first statewide blockchain systems architect – Thaddeus Batt, the former chief technology officer of Denver software firm Spire Digital. In the role, Batt along with a 12 member blockchain council will look for ways the state can use the technology throughout government.