The Department of Treasury is using emerging technologies – namely blockchain – to reduce the reporting burden on U.S. Federal grants issued by the agency.

Craig Fischer, Supervisory Program Manager for the Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation at Treasury, broke down how the agency has been working to reduce the burden on reporting Federal grants with blockchain technology during the March 17 ACT-IAC Digital Transformation Summit. According to Fischer, researchers spend 44 percent of their research time on performing mandated administrative tasks.

“There’s a huge reporting burden that’s associated with receiving grant funding,” said Fischer. “And really what we’ve been trying to do – and we’ve been working with the National Science Foundation (NSF) who does issue a lot of grants out there – is trying to understand how blockchain and other emerging technologies, particularly blockchain, really helped us with reducing the amount of reporting burden that these that these recipients of grants are actually experiencing.”

Fischer explained that reducing the reporting burden includes improving payment visibility. Grant payments generally go to a prime recipient, but in some cases the payments can then go to a “sub-recipient.” This forces the government to ask more questions about the sub-recipient, which can slow the process. By leveraging blockchain, the agency hopes to improve visibility of payments and reduce the burden.

Treasury and NSF are working on tokenizing information into a blockchain delegate. Fischer said that they’re looking at grants information, key dates, and awarding information, and combining all of that data together as a token.

“And as this token … transfers from participant to participant, we can see sort of in real time,” said Fischer. He said the added transparency allows them to see where the funding is going, so that “we don’t have to require so much reporting as we currently do today.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.