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General Services Administration
Office of Governmentwide Policy
1800 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20405

September 30, 2003


To: Associations for State and Local Governments

Subject: Gov Domain Names on the Internet

The General Services Administration (GSA) would like to clarify information concerning the Internet Gov domain for local jurisdictions and the associations that serve them, as well as correct some misinformation being circulated.

The Gov domain was previously reserved for Federal Government entities. However, other non-Federal Government entities, such as state and local governments, and Federally recognized Indian tribes, known as Native Sovereign Nations, have shown an increased interest in obtaining Gov domains. As a result, after public input, Final Rule - 41 CFR Part 102-173, was issued in March 2003 that established a basis to permit Gov domain services for state and local governments, and Native Sovereign Nations. That rule also established conforming name protocols for URLs in the Gov domain. (The Final Rule may be obtained at www.dotgov.gov or www.nic.gov.)

Unfortunately, there has been some misinformation distributed concerning GSA's efforts and the impact on local governments. It has been circulated that non-conforming named domains will be removed within 18 months. That is not the case. GSA has not established deadlines but would like to offer conforming names to localities that currently have only non-conforming Gov domain names to complement the existing name access.

In order for Gov domains and URLs to be of value to citizens dealing with the various units of Government, we would like to evolve to predictable URLs that conform to the regulations, e.g., www.ParisTN.gov. Implementing the conforming URL does not preclude existing non-conforming names from being maintained on an indefinite long-term basis and being directed to the same page.

In some cases, the non-conforming names may create confusion or wasted browsing for citizens seeking information. This is especially true for names that are popular in many states and the non-conforming name carries no state identifier. In other cases, it causes confusion over which locality the Government services apply to. Non-conforming names may be known to existing community residents but localities may miss opportunities from new residents or those trying to discover their community because the lack of a conforming URL. In addition, the naming convention sought to minimize disputes and the bureaucracy needed to manage the Gov domain.

Now is the time to begin to provide more order to the Gov domain. Providing a predictable, accessible Gov domain environment will be important as it continues to grow. We would like to assist localities in establishing a conforming named domain to allow for those localities to be found consistently on the Internet. We are hopeful that over a period of time, the conforming URLs would be included in marketing materials and normal local publicity, and that over the long-term, through monitoring the results of web traffic statistics, the jurisdictions will feel comfortable utilizing only the conforming name.

Again, we would like to offer additional conforming names to localities to complement the existing non-conforming names. We hope this information is helpful in clearing up any misunderstanding. If additional information is needed, or if you have questions, please consult www.dotgov.gov or www.nic.gov, or E-mail Lee Ellis at lee.ellis@gsa.gov.

Sincerely,

/s/

Mary J. Mitchell
Deputy Associate Administrator
Office of Electronic Government and Technology