This week, Utah County Commissioner Amelia Powers Gardner became one of the first appointees to Utah’s Blockchain and Digital Innovation Task Force by Gov. Spencer Cox.
Powers Gardner received a text message from the governor’s office Monday informing her she had been appointed to the task force. She also received an emailed letter of her appointment signed by Cox on June 2.
“The goal was to have all the members selected in the month of June, so since my letter was dated on the second. I was one of the first, if not the first,” she said.
Up to 15 members will be selected, having a mix of government and industry representatives.
“They want to lean heavily towards industry experts, and its purpose is to end up helping government and understand and evaluate different things as technology gets introduced,” Powers Gardner said. “The task force is still forming. We don’t even have all the members yet. I’m one of the first members. I called the governor’s office, and I did ask who the other members were, and they said we don’t know everyone yet.”
House Bill 335, approving the task force, was signed by Cox in March.
An example of what the task force is meant to do is considering legislation dealing with innovation and giving evaluations or recommendations on it.
One of the reasons Powers Gardner said she was placed on the task force was because she has experience implementing blockchains into Utah County.
In early 2020, while serving as the Utah County clerk/auditor, she helped the county release a blockchain marriage license solution.
By doing so, daily operations remained unchanged during the COVID-19 pandemic because many of the systems were automated.
“I have a real-life application, and I understand how that can be implemented in government. If other government agencies have an idea and are saying, ‘Hey, we would like to use this digital innovation or use blockchain for this purpose,’ the task force can help evaluate if that is a viable use of technology or possibly see if there’s any issues with it that need to be considered.
“The reason why the state wanted to have this task force is because so many people in general, also in government, don’t I understand new technology that is emerging. This really gives a group of experts from industry and government the ability to flush ideas through.”
As far as Powers Gardner knows, she will be the only local government representative on the task force and possibly the only female member. She said she was aware of the list of individuals the governor’s office was considering to be on the task force.
“When they were floating around names of potential people on the task force, there were only two names that were female,” she said. “So, there’s a chance that I may be the only woman or one of two women on the 15-person task force.”
Powers Gardner was also the first woman to be elected as a Utah County commissioner, so being the only woman in the room isn’t an unusual feeling for her.
“Women’s voices are so important to have at the table,” she added. “Women tend to evaluate things a little bit differently and that’s a good thing, especially when dealing with a large group. Having diversity of thought gives everyone a better outcome at the end. So, if I have the opportunity to ensure that women’s voices are being heard and we have a seat at the table, I am more than happy to fill that role.”
The commissioner believes her new role can be used to better serve the county by being one of the first to learn about new, innovative ideas.
“As new ideas come forward, most people won’t hear about an idea unless it gets implemented,” she said. “There are going to be times maybe something doesn’t get implemented for whatever it was supposed to, but I’ll have the ability to look at all the new ideas and see if the citizens of Utah County will be able to benefit from such technology.”