JOURNAL OF GOVERNANCE AND POLITICS


SCHOOL OF GOVERNANCE AND POLITICS MGIMO UNIVERSITY RUSSIA

Archive

№2, 2018

Burning Issues of Governance and Administration

Blockchain as a Means of Improving Public Administration in Russia and Abroad

Polina Mishina

 P. Mishina, A third-year student/ School of Governance and Politics 

Abstract: The issue of using blockchain-based technologies as a way of creating better public services is being considered today, but the novelty of the phenomenon calls into question its application. It is discussed if blockchain could become a future of public administration in Russia and abroad. It is necessary to highlight the pros and cons of this proposal.

Keywords: blockchain, government, public administration, bureaucracy.

Introduction

Blockchain is a list of records, a distributed register or ledger, which is a reliable and convenient data store for transactions. Blockchain is a platform that could allow people to come to an agreement without any intermediaries, providing the basis for contracts based on the principle of consensus. Until recently, blockchain was exclusively associated with Bitcoin as the technology is the basis of the cryptocurrency. Today it is clear that this leading software platform could be widely used not only in payments but in most public spheres, particularly in public administration.

According to proponents of the technology, blockchain is able to change our world. Today governments of many countries are exploring the possibility of using blockchain, including its incorporation into their administration processes. Some governments have already began the introduction of the new technology.

Theoretical Background

Today blockchain-based technologies are becoming increasingly popular. Blockchain contains information about contracts or transactions in a distributed database. The records are highly encrypted, providing protection from deletion or unauthorised access and modification. All agreements, assignments and payments could be encrypted and provided with a digital signature and a unique identifier. Information can be easily verified and sent to anyone. As such, blockchain technology is a forward-looking way to simplify information exchange, bringing additional security and trust to all parties in a transaction.

Study

Methods. This issue draws attention of many researchers all over the world. The identification of the advantages and weaknesses of blockchain use in government will help form a conclusion about the feasibility of future use of the technology in public administration. The comparison between theory and reality of the capabilities of blockchain can show the potential gaps both in public administration and in the new technology.

Procedure. It is clear that blockchain has potential to make public administration more secure, trustworthy and more efficient. Thanks to its digital platform and multi-functionality, blockchain is able to reduce the bureaucratic load. Today practically every kind of transaction can be submitted to the distributed ledger. Access to this ledger can become a basis for the collaboration of executive authorities, for the building of networked public services and in certain cases for the simplification of the executive branch. These measures could contribute to an increase in efficiency across the whole of the government.

Blockchain can substitute for a number of officials who usually carry out administrative tasks. Blockchain-based technologies can facilitate different transactions, licences, permissions, processes, events in a secure and transparent way. In this case it is able to cut salary costs and other types of expenses and increase the speed and reliability of the wide range of services and processes.

The openness of this technology is one of the most significant advantages as it can lay the foundation for better delivery of government administration. Blockchain-based technology can become a stepping-stone towards direct and flexible democracy or Futarchy (two-step democracy) thanks to e-voting. This possibility is being planned today in Russia and in the UAE. Simplifying of the interactions with citizens can become a driver for an increase in public confidence.

New technologies naturally have some problems and challenges, blockchain technology is no different. As it is an electronic technology, it requires a lot of electricity to run as an ecosystem, including central servers, networks and many electronic devices (one for each user). As each «block» added to the «chain» increases the size of database the computing requirements increase with each use. This is especially a critical consideration when we talk about blockchain-government, about the blockchain on a national scale.

Not only e-voting is developing today in Russia. Russian Central Securities Depositories started to integrate blockchain technology to simplify performing transactions for stakeholders. The Government planned to spend 2,5 million rubles on exploring blockchain technologies. In 2018 it is scheduled to develop principles and approaches to the adoption of blockchain. Some goals and activities have already been identified, such as use within the land-administration agency Rosreestr of the Russian Federation, and of Rospatent based on blockchain by 2019. As of today, no government departments use blockchain-based technologies.

A lot of governments all over the world are sure that blockchains can help to create more efficient government administration. The Blockchain Initiative appeared in US in 2016 and now it is well developed. The essential question today is related to the foundation of a new system; education and enforceability. The main goal is the integration of blockchain technologies into paying federal taxes, getting passports, filing patents and receiving social security. Elsewhere the government in the United Arab Emirates is working on the introduction of new blockchain technologies into the business registration, trade and central bank operations. Digital cryptocurrencies and payments are mostly developed in Asia.

Today the leader in digitisation of public services and tech literacy is Estonia, this country is more open than others to embracing blockchain. Its collaboration with a Swiss startup Procivis is truly bearing fruit. They are developing e-voting as one of the possible secure digital applications, creating a powerful platform which is able to offer full range of public administration services. Procivis experts try to find solutions to the similar struggles that governments trying to integrate new technologies experience.

Results

Blockchain-based technologies are able to bring efficiency, speed and security to a variety of public services. Blockchain makes it possible to create new management models, but it is necessary to solve some problems such as providing better legal and technology infrastructure.

Discussion

It is possible that a blockchain-government will be more like a business structure than a monopoly in providing public services. It means that it will be more important to build relations with citizens as consumers of services, providing them with quality services and favourable terms.

Conclusion

Blockchain technologies have enough potential to improve the delivery of e-services and what is more important to increase trust in public sector. Liveliness of the discussions and diversity of expressed ideas and approaches to the blockchain adoption in different countries prove that this technology is able to become the future basis of public administration.

References:

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