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Rhode Island calls for blockchain government projects

On the 3rd June, the State of Rhode Island released its blockchain Request for Proposals (RFP), a public call for proofs of concept. The East Coast state is inviting blockchain firms to submit their ideas for how distributed ledger technology (DLT) could be used in government.

The state is open to any viable area of application, unusually not contracting a dedicated company for a specific purpose. It appears that this RFP is intended to allow for broader innovation and for blockchain firms to have more of a say in how they think the technology should be used.

“This will encourage blockchain businesses to demonstrate their value to government entities, and I encourage blockchain-based businesses to consider Rhode Island to test blockchain technology within government,” explained Liz Tanner, the Director of the Department of Business Regulation.

The official RFP document outlines some common examples of blockchain projects, such as smart contracts, antifraud platforms, plus pharmaceutical and supply chain traceability.

Interestingly, Rhode Island also puts forward some more novel ideas, like using a distributed ledger to store verifiable license information. Along with combatting the use of fake licenses, this could also speed up the verification process.

Another example is registering votes on a blockchain to provide immutable proof of the outcome should a dispute arise. This digital system is far removed from traditional ballots, which are susceptible to fraud and sometimes require time-consuming recounts. That said, there is significant debate in the blockchain community about whether the technology is appropriate.

The state’s CIO/CDO Bijay Kumar is optimistic: “This is really the first step to see what’s out there and if blockchain technology can help improve government processes in the future.”

“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.”

Proposals must be submitted by the 21st June, where they will rank out of 100. Points are awarded for the qualifications and capability of the staff, the development plan, the proposal itself, and the demonstration of the blockchain project. Winning firms will begin their contract in mid-August.

This week, the Data Foundation published seven ways blockchain could be used in government. Earlier this month, Thales disclosed that the US Federal Government is already adopting blockchain at a high rate.