New DOTGOV Online Trust in Government Act gives governments easier access to official .gov domains

.gov domain
Source: usa.gov

I’ve been an advocate of U.S.-based government organizations having .gov domains for quite sometime, so it’s great to see Congress has made this easier and potentially cheaper to achieve. Previously, the hurdle has been technical and financial, especially for local entities with limited resources who can’t afford the annual $400 fee the General Services Administration currently charges.

From Andrew Westrope at Government Technology:

Introduced in 2019 by two Democratic and two Republican senators, the DOTGOV Act shifts responsibility for administering official Web domains from the General Services Administration to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). It also requires CISA to come up with an outreach strategy and offer resources to local governments looking to migrate to .gov domains.



Another hurdle for .gov domain adoption has been a financial one. Pincus said it comes with an annual $400 registration fee, which some small jurisdictions find hard to justify when they can pay GoDaddy or another website registration service $10 for a .com address. The new bill aims to answer that with two changes: One is outreach, as GSA wasn’t mandated to proactively work with local governments on registering them for these domains. The other is by giving the CISA director — whom President-elect Joe Biden has yet to name —  broad latitude to waive the registration fee.

Government Technology

And Benjamin Freed at StateScoop:

According to the language of the bill, “the .gov internet domain should be available at no cost or a negligible cost to any Federal, State, local, or territorial government-operated or publicly controlled entity” — including federally and state-recognized tribal governments — “for use in their official services, operations, and communications.”

The .gov domain includes a variety of security features that commercially available web addresses, like those ending in .com or .org often lack, including active vulnerability monitoring and two-factor authentication for all users. Sites on .gov are also capable of being “preloaded” in web browsers using HTTPS, a protocol that runs over an encrypted connection, rather than the unsecured HTTP protocol. The federal government also runs a round-the-clock emergency help desk for .gov operators.

Nationwide, there are about 39,000 local governments. But collectively, they have registered fewer than 4,000 .gov domains, according to the General Services Administration, which currently administers the TLD. In addition to the security features, .gov addresses are considered more reliable because the suffix conveys legitimacy. That’s been a particular concern around election security, as officials this year implored people to get information about voting from trusted government sources.

StateScoop

Let’s hope the Biden Administration waives the registration fee, and we’ll see the number of .gov domains quickly grow.

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About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh, co-founder/CEO of ProudCity and co-host of the podcast, The Government We Need. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at luke@govfresh.com.

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