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Blockchain and public administration

Public administration is often criticized as a central point of failure in the modern nation state. Blockchain technology, some scholars argue, has the potential to lay the foundations of a decentralized automated executive branch and remedy the vulnerabilities to the abuse of discretionary power, to corruption, and to the falsification of information used by administrative agencies. In this chapter, I discuss the virtues and, more specifically, the limitations of blockchain technology in the context of public administration. I argue that several properties praised as virtues of blockchain technology are difficult to reconcile with principles of administrative law. Immutability and perfect enforceability create severe friction with institutional safeguards, rules, and doctrines that are designed to foster compliance with administrative law and, more fundamentally, to ensure the rule of law.