On March 9, President Joe Biden signed a cryptocurrency executive order, which generally directs federal agencies to examine the risks and benefits of cryptocurrencies. The executive order provides this administration’s outline for the “whole-of-government approach to addressing the risks and harnessing the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology.” The executive order calls for measures that focus on six key areas: consumer protection, financial stability, illicit activity, U.S. competitiveness, financial inclusion, and responsible innovation. Further, the executive order includes considering the possible launch of a federally issued digital dollar.
As a refresher, executive orders are carried out by the president and no oversight by Congress is required. As such, Orders can only give direction to the federal agencies under the executive branch to carry out specific actions. While they may carry the weight of law in the sense they must be followed while in effect, Orders cannot overtake any authority exercised by Congress to draft and pass legislation.
It should be noted that just a few days before President Biden signed the Order, the GFOA Board adopted an advisory recommending governments abstain from using and investing in cryptocurrency for government operations. GFOA’s FLC will continue to monitor the administration’s work on this issue and report developments as they occur.