Colombians are long used to being solicited for bribe money by authorities. This is a menace that has bedeviled the country and its tentacles run deep in Colombian culture. In a bid to stem this, the country has partnered with the World Economic Forum and the Inter American Bank to use Blockchain and fight corruption within the country. The Office of the inspector General of Colombia recently announced this development and stated that the system is going to be used to target cartels syphoning money meant for school meals.
It is envisaged that implementing the system in the public education system will help enhance transparency in the feeding program, reduce corruption and ward off cartels that have infiltrated the system.
The school feeding program in the country is an initiative that target vulnerable children. The vendor bidding process has always been a conduit for corruption. The agencies hope that using Blockchain technology in this initiative will act as a stepping stone for rollout across all other government ministries.
Details of the POC Blockchain
The Blockchain software works on Proof of Concept basis that will incorporate the use of cryptography and distributed consensus basis. It will work on the Ethereum Blockchain Network. Using Ethereum Blockchain promotes decentralization, data immutability and data security. The project is multifaceted and takes three approaches on its implementation: Use of Blockchain technology, implementation of policy proposals and community engagement strategy.
The key areas that the software tackles using Blockchain:
- Vendors register to participate on the tendering process through the system. Tenders will be published on smart contracts.
- Smart contract sets for automatic start and end of bidding period. It also allows for tenders to be withdrawn within a given time frame.
- Tendering team then open the tender documents through a specially provided ID by the vendors. Once the winner has been identified through public participation recorded on the ledger, then all the details are published on the Blockchain for everyone to scrutinize.
So far the team has made some findings and drafted a report on their implementation. They have also realized that there are some drawbacks on the use of Blockchain technology to fight corruption. Good thing is that these drawbacks can be remedied as Blockchain technology matures. Some of the observed drawbacks were: Handling vendor privacy on the Blockchain and also scaling up the project. The report suggests that a remedy to this is to use a hybrid Blockchain solution that would strike a balance on the issue of transparency, integrity and security.
The report further notes that Blockchain alone cannot be used as a solution to corruption. It states that while Blockchain may be effective on tendering processes, it may be inadequate in stopping corruption outside of electronic media. Technological developments have to work hand in hand with policy shifts and robust community engagement so as to be effective.