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Should the government appoint a chief blockchain officer?

4th Jul 18 8:06 am

Here’s why

Eddie Hughes MP says embracing blockchain will lead to increased social freedom, trust, and efficiency savings in new FREER paper published today

Launching today, Unlocking Blockchain: Embracing new technologies to drive efficiency and empower the citizen is an enthusiastic call for government to embrace the opportunities of blockchain and associated technologies. Its author is Eddie Hughes — Conservative MP for Walsall North. The paper is published by FREER, a new political initiative which launched in March with an aim of bringing economically and socially liberal thinking back into British politics, and of which Eddie Hughes is a Parliamentary Supporter.

In Unlocking Blockchain, Hughes argues that blockchain offers great opportunities for increased economic progress alongside increased individual freedom. He makes a series of recommendations, including the establishment of a UK-based international blockchain competition, and a public-facing Chief Blockchain Officer. He also proposes a UK ‘blockchain departmental target’: a long-term aim for government departments to make a 1 per cent efficiency saving by embracing blockchain and other associated innovative technologies. He argues that a renewed UK focus on efficiency and the opportunities of new technology would be inspirational.


  •  An extensive international ‘blockchain competition’ should be set up in the UK to drive homegrown entrepreneurship, and to entice leading global players to develop technology here. This should ideally be established in collaboration with leading British universities, and funded by businesses that would benefit from improved national technological standards.
  • Embracing the opportunities of distributive ledger technology (DLT) should be fit explicitly—nominally as well as substantively—into a ministerial brief.
  • A public-facing ‘Chief Blockchain Officer’ should be appointed from within the government’s existing taskforce to coordinate the UK’s strategy regarding the application of DLT to public services and data. This role should be expanded to include other key new technologies, such as AI, as and when they converge.
  • Government departments should show leadership by putting in a place a long-term target of making a 1 per cent efficiency saving, by embracing these new technologies. A 1 per cent saving across government would take a great deal of time and effort to implement, though some departments would find such a target much easier to meet than others. For context, however, total managed expenditure for 2017-18 is anticipated to be around £802bn—therefore, a 1 per cent saving would be £8bn.

▪              A renewed UK focus on efficiency and the opportunities of new technology would be inspirational in a wider sense, too.

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