How Jose Arrieta Became a Blockchain Champion

Jose Arrieta, HHS

Jose Arrieta has left his mark on IT history as the person who created the first blockchain in U.S. federal government — and only the second in the world — to be used for public procurement. 

Today, he serves as the chief information officer at the Department of Health and Human Services, overseeing technology efforts during a critical time. Under his leadership, HHS has slashed operating costs, consolidated contracts and implemented several moves to leverage advanced technology — including blockchain, a cryptographed digital ledger that is by design resistant to data modification.

The government career that led to him taking the technology helm of HHS back in May began around 15 years ago.

“It’s a long story as to how I got into this role,” he said.

La Paz, Bolivia

Back in 2001, he was working his way through Susquehanna University as a business administration and marketing student where he would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree. About a year after graduating, Arrieta began working as a procurement analyst and contracting officer at the General Services Administration. In 2009, he completed his MBA from American University.

Arrieta went on to become a program manager at the Transportation Security Administration, and serve as an industry liaison and ombudsman at the Department of Homeland Security. Later, he directed the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at the Treasury Department, which then was interested in bitcoin, a digital currency powered by blockchain. Arrieta’s supervisor noted his background in technology and asked him to serve on a working group at the National Security Council on emerging technology.

“I was interested in blockchain as it related to connecting a range of different IT systems and creating a standardized data layer,” Arrieta said. “I had been telling her that I thought blockchain would be very transformational to a number of other fields rather than just…

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