US Congressional Watchdog Quietly Reveals DLT Prototype Development

The United States Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Innovation Lab posted ads for job positions to develop “use case prototypes” for blockchain technologies in late-March.

GAO is the supreme audit institution of the U.S. government and provides evaluation and investigative services for Congress.

GAO to explore prototype applications for DLT

The two positions seek an ‘Interdisciplinary Computer Engineer/Computer Scientist’ and an ‘Interdisciplinary Assistant Director, Computer Scientist/Engineer’ to explore “emerging technologies” including blockchain.

Both roles will be overseen by GAO’s Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics (STAA) Team’s Innovation Lab.

The listings show that the lab is creating a unit to “[i]dentify, develop, test, and evaluate use case prototypes for emerging technologies” including “digital ledger (blockchain),” machine learning systems, Internet of Things (IoT), and virtual and augmented reality technologies.

Through the lab’s work, the agency hopes to “determine the most promising solutions and approaches which, if successful, could profoundly change the business of audit, investigations, and program evaluation for the future GAO.”

GAO warms to blockchain

GAO launched the STAA Team to explore emerging technologies at the end of January — with the body comprising the first new office opened by GAO’s in two decades.

In September 2019, the agency published a brochure asserting that distributed ledger technologies (DLT) “could fundamentally change the way government and industry conduct business” — signposting GAO’s interest in blockchain months ago. 

The report noted improved transparency, reduced labor costs, and data quality among the opportunities offered by blockchain. 

GAO also emphasized the wide applicability of DLT across many critical sectors, including supply chain and logistics, news, energy, and healthcare.