The Future of SaaS is GaaS: Government as a Service

by: Dan Genduso

A little over 20 years ago, companies started to move from on-premise software — where a company owned and managed all the infrastructure — to cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) — where a company subscribed to access different components of the technology infrastructure that were largely owned and managed by a service provider that had domain expertise. This was an important shift for several reasons. It allowed companies to:

  • Re-Focus on their core purpose, rather than trying to be a technology company
  • Re-Use proven components across companies and industries, rather than re-create the wheel
  • Re-Invest cost savings back into the company to create more value

Looking at the current state of our union, there is a glaring need for our government to become a technology organization. Many of our current problems are originating with each state piecing together similar technology stacks and re-building the same functional components over and over, albeit with inconsistent protocols, standards, and vendors. These issues are similar to those that foreshadowed a new wave of SaaS products. If we can create consistency and continuity to get cities, states, and nations operating in unison as a well-oiled machine, we can start to improve the quality of our services and the overall citizen experience. We need to get government up to speed with all these highly automated companies that are operating within the nation and enter the digital age to better serve and protect our citizens. We need to be at the forefront of policies, not lagging decades behind, leaving companies to create their own policies that favor their shareholders over our shareholders — the citizens.

We also need to consider what is happening with the base stock of our parent organization — the dollar. Just take a quick look at the stock market and you will see that the value of these companies continues to rise against the value of the dollar. This is not necessarily a good thing that every asset is rising against the dollar, even though our leaders point to it as success. There is serious misalignment with the valuation of these companies, and the value they are providing to our community. When they do well, the value of our community should increase, but that is not what is happening. San Francisco is an interesting example. We need to re-align incentives around the needs of citizens, while linking the success of companies to the success of the surrounding community.

There are some big concerns when thinking about this technological transformation of our government, and we can discuss these in more detail in future articles. The four main concerns are:

  • Personnel: Our government is not currently filled with technologists. We have not been hiring with this future system in mind. We likely do not have the knowhow to do this with our current administration and in the last several years, we have not taken the CTO role seriously.
  • Alignment: Current technologies are built to support the needs of companies. We are not customers or users. We are citizens and we need a system that supports our needs. We are shareholders and we need our value to increase in order for the community’s value to increase.
  • Cost: The subscription cost for SaaS capabilities when scaled to include local and national communities is substantial. Any reasonable build vs buy analysis would have us strongly consider a build for sustainability and leverage purposes. We can’t rely on for-profit companies to not hike up prices once switching costs get too high. These companies are always going to want to generate more revenue than the previous year because they are at the will of their shareholders.
  • Trust: It is difficult to trust the motives of for-profit companies, particularly when their systems and algorithms are closed or classified and ownership shares are not clear. If things are redacted and we cannot see what is happening, seeds of doubt are sown. Once there is doubt, trust is nearly impossible to rebuild.

Understanding these concerns, I propose Government as a Service (GaaS), which is a collection of open-source, blockchain-enabled capabilities that collectively allow communities to automate judicial, legislative, and executive workflows and manage, among other things:

  • Citizenships
  • Credentials (IDs, licenses, passports, certificates, degrees, etc)
  • Campaigns
  • Elections & Polls
  • Currencies
  • Taxes & Fees
  • Funds
  • Policies
  • Laws or Rules
  • Protocols
  • Roles & Positions
  • Data, Documents, & Digital Assets
  • Events & Calendars
  • Programs, Projects, & Activities
  • Social Services (education, healthcare, mail, police, welfare, job training, policy research, etc.)

GaaS provides a transparent, scalable, and decentralized technology stack that any democratic community or network can freely migrate to from legacy systems as part of their technology transformation, while customizing components to meet local needs and still maintaining continuity throughout a universal system of government. An ability to freely migrate means that there are no barriers to using the public operating network (no up-front-fees or subscriptions), but rather a small, value-add tax (VAT) to generate a sustainable operating revenue.

Colleges and companies, particularly social networks, can migrate to activate a governing workflows and a tax-based business model, while leveraging local currencies, unique asset tokens, “social services,” and polling to engage with citizens. My belief is that this can provide online communities with the foundational components of thriving, healthy communities, while re-aligning incentives and creating a universal income for citizens. We are dealing with humans, not unknowing test subjects or manipulated slaves to consumerism and corporate profits. We need to treat them as such and be responsible for their growth and mental health without swindling them and extracting all of their value in the name of shareholder profits. Transaction-based models help citizens visualize that value extraction through community tax rates.

This technology ecosystem will be managed through a non-profit (similar to the way Linux Foundation accelerates an ecosystem around Linux), which is a citizen-governed foundation. In future articles we will discuss how this decentralized foundation will work. By managing this through a non-profit, we can work together towards a common vision as the future-focused organization for government technologies and systems. This allows the current government to:

  • Re-Focus on its core purpose, which is to meet the needs of the citizen
  • Re-Use capabilities across neighborhoods, cities, states, and territories
  • Re-Invest the cost savings into new public or social services that enable citizens to create more value.

Over the next couple months, I will do deeper dives into topics mentioned in this article, while presenting frameworks and overviews of GaaS competencies and capabilities that make up the citizen engagement system. The first one covered will be our flagship competency and product, Citizen Relationship Management (CRM).

My hope is that I can provide insight into the purpose (why are we doing this), lead us through the mission (how we are going to do it), and then present knowhow and development plans so we can collectively build — in public, as one nation– the future of democracy (what we are creating). Subscribe to join the journey and receive email updates as we build a DAN: Decentralized Autonomous Nation.