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Blockchain technology has gained significant attention as a solution for collaboration and partnerships in various sectors. However, its adoption in the public sector has been hindered by technical jargon, misconceptions, and negative associations with cryptocurrencies. To address these challenges, this report provides practical guidance on applying blockchain to facilitate broader collaboration and partnerships, with a specific focus on its relevance to government and public sector bodies aiming to improve social, economic, and environmental outcomes.

This report brings a comprehensive overview of blockchain technology, highlighting its key features such as immutability, decentralisation, and programmability. These features enable the creation of decentralised networks that have the potential to:

  1. Support relationships and trust: Blockchain enhances data security, enables democratic sharing of information, facilitates the creation of smart contracts, and reduces costs associated with relationship building and maintenance.
  2. Facilitate coordination: In areas with multiple reporting mechanisms, blockchain offers a new way to achieve information consistency in project management, eliminates manual reconciliation in financial and sustainability reporting, and enhances coordination among stakeholders.
  3. Enhance transparency and accountability: Blockchain improves understanding of program effectiveness, combats corruption in public spending and procurement, and enables transparent tracking of outcomes and funding sources, thereby enhancing accountability.

While blockchain technology offers numerous benefits, it also has limitations that need to be considered. Immutability ensures transaction integrity but restricts the ability to modify or delete recorded transactions. Decentralisation can lead to power dynamics within the network, potentially favouring certain participants. Additionally, despite being touted as a untrustworthy technology, blockchain still relies on trust in the underlying technology and the network's participants.

To guide public managers contemplating the adoption of blockchain technologies, the report presents a decision-making framework. This framework emphasises the importance of clear objectives, appropriate governance arrangements, stakeholder engagement, and other factors crucial for successful implementation.

In conclusion, while recognising the potential benefits of blockchain technology in enhancing collaboration and partnerships, its adoption should be approached carefully. Policymakers should evaluate the technology's potential benefits, limitations, and drawbacks on a case-by-case basis, considering factors such as cost, scalability, and compatibility with existing systems. It is crucial to adopt evidence-based decision frameworks to ensure objective decision making.

Key policy implications identified in the report include:

  1. Cautious adoption: Policymakers should approach blockchain adoption carefully, considering its potential benefits and limitations. Evidence-based decision frameworks can assist in objective decision making.
  2. Interoperability: Improving interoperability between different blockchain systems and existing technology infrastructure is vital to unleash the full potential of blockchain technology. Integration with other technologies can enhance its effectiveness.
  3. Healthcare and climate action: Blockchain technology shows promise in addressing challenges in healthcare, such as data integration and risk management, as well as promoting climate action through enhanced carbon accountability and traceability.
  4. Collaboration in the public sector: Blockchain has the potential to benefit collaboration between stakeholders in areas such as procurement, public finance management, and outcome-based contracting.
  5. Research and development: Policymakers should invest in research and development to gain a better understanding of blockchain's potential applications and effective integration with existing systems.