A new report from the UK Government Office for Science has recommended a broad government effort to explore and test blockchain and distributed ledger technology.
The report, spearheaded by the government's top scientific advisor Mark Walport, contained proposals aimed at pushing for segments of the UK government to pursue applications of the technology.
The recommendations include the development of standards for the technology's use; the creation of new roles in the government to demonstrate proofs-of-concept; and the establishment of a roadmap for further exploration and utilization.
The report highlights the potential benefits of using the technology, writing:
"In summary, distributed ledger technology provides the framework for government to reduce fraud, corruption, error and the cost of paper-intensive processes. It has the potential to redefine the relationship between government and the citizen in terms of data sharing, transparency and trust."
Notably, the report pushes for comprehensive testing of blockchain tech, advocating that agencies within the government as well as elements of the country's research community collaborate on such initiatives.
"Understanding the true potential of distributed ledgers requires not only research but also using the technology for real-life applications," the report states. "Government should establish trials of distributed ledgers in order to assess the technology's usability within the public sector."
Among the potential applications identified in the report include uses for government aid payment systems and tax monitoring.
"Distributed ledger technologies have the potential to help governments to collect taxes, deliver benefits, issue passports, record land registries, assure the supply chain of goods and generally ensure the integrity of government records and services," the report said.
The publication adds to the growing calls to action within the UK government for aspects of blockchain tech to be implemented. Some agencies, including the Government Digital Service, have already begun experimenting with the blockchain and distributed ledgers.
In a speech in October, Harriet Baldwin MP, HM Treasury's economic secretary, reinforced the government's desire to attract startups and developers looking to utilize the technology.