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FAR-flung 1102

Accountability Might Need a New Name

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Audit readiness and information reporting are the reasons for more and more of the things we are called upon to do as stewards of a vast public trust. There seems to be an air of inevitability about it...a kind bureaucratic mission creep so easily sets in and there are new reasons to ever add new tasks, new considerations, and new demands to our day. It has come to dominate the landscape around us. 

With new tools we may be able to query most any question about government spending and get the answer immediately. 

Blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin should enable us to uniquely label (or perhaps instead of "label" call it "name" if you like, in a nod to personal finance and budgeting authority, Dave Ramsey) every single dollar to spend and add to that label for every event involving that dollar. To conduct an audit or obtain a report (they become the same thing done by different people) read the label for every single dollar spent at any time during the acquisition cycle and compile the result to your heart's content.  In Real Time. Every single dollar will carry its complete history: Appropriation data, time and date infirmation, the personnel making approvals and  authorities cited  award data, socio economic data, acceptance and chain of custody, associated RFID identification,  physical inventory results and emergent ideas not yet considered. 

I wouldn't get concerned over things this idea isn't. This isn't a budget process; and it isn't a new currency; and it isn't using Bitcoin to pay vendors; it isn't using bitcoin at all. It is a new tool to track the flow and use of dollars in government in real time.  

What's more there will be ways to reliably and permanently obscure proprietary information so that it will have proper and determinable boundaries. 

We don't have to do what we have always done. Without statistical sampling we can query the dollars themselves and learn anything we want from those dollars about government spending in real time. Who da thunk it?

Insight into uses of blockchain technology is growing now:


A daily watcher of blockchain technology, Matt Levine can be found here: 


Thoughts? Predictions? Reality Checks, anyone? 

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Thank you Mr.  Fleharty. The resources you linked are clear eyed and helpful. 
Yes, I see the features of this effort fitting nicely in the early implementation described by the authors in the linked HBR article. 
Namely, the initial effort I envision is:
One customer, that being DoD or one of its components;  limited scope, that is accountability systems (accounting & property); simplistic regulatory framework, that is mainly Congressional oversight instead of being a commercial sector concern which may face many multi-level considerations in a GAAP/SEC/FNRA/FED/IRS/shareholder/congressional oversight environs; a long cherished elusive and difficult to achieve goal, that is achieving and maintaining audit readiness; the prospect of fulfilling the promise of improvements in doing government business , that is the essence of this effort to re-envision government accountability; overall improvements in cost avoidance, cost visibility, responsiveness to oversight, and decreased management burden, these are 
major incentives with obvious appeal both in and out of the executive branch. 

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PepeTheFrog thinks this method of transparency and accountability is a fantastic idea.

Reality check: DoD and Intelligence will claim "national security implications" to avoid using blockchain accounting. The real reason will be (a) some actual national security implications for a very small amount of the spending and (b) a convenient excuse to avoid accountability for the gigantic remainder.

Congress and its constituents might really like this idea because it will put tighter strings on the appropriations. Hopefully, Congress will legislate a requirement to use this method if it is proven to be secure, reliable, and useful in a few test cases.

One day before September 11, 2001, SECDEF Donald Rumsfeld announced the Pentagon cannot track $2.3 trillion of transactions, supposedly due to outdated and incompatible systems. 

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