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country: United States
Registry Provider: General Services Administration (GSA)
Date Implemented: 1985
Type: sponsored top level domain (sTLD)
Community: U.S. government entities

More information: NTLDStatsLogo.png

.gov is one of the original top-level domain namess (TLDs) that was implemented in the root zone of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). The domain is a short term for "government." Use is restricted to United States government agencies, and therefore it is considered a sponsored top-level domain name (sTLD). The other TLDs introduced by Jon Postel and Joyce Reynolds at the same time were .arpa .com, .edu, .net, .mil, and .org.[1] The General Services Administration (GSA), an independent agency responsible for supervising the businesses of the United States federal government, serves as the administrator of .gov domain.[2]


During the late 1980s, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) delegated .gov to the Federal Networking Council (FNC), a group chartered by the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Computing, Information and Communications (CCIC) to provide a forum for collaboration among Federal agencies to meet their research, educational, and operational mission goals.[3] On July 18, 1997, FNC granted the authority to administer and manage the operations of the .gov domain to the GSA through the guidance of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).[4] [5]


The GSA implements the following registration policies:[6]

  • Federal, state, and local governments including Native Sovereign Nations are allowed to register .gov domain names.
  • The Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the requesting or sponsoring organization, or the highest ranking Information Technology Officer from independent Federal government agencies, boards, and commissions or the proper State or Local Officials must authorize the domain name to be registered and submit it to the GSA. Domain Names from Native Sovereign Nations must be authorized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of the Interior. The GSA will evaluate if the proposed domain name to be registered is appropriate and on a case to case basis it reserves its right not to assign the domain name.
  • The GSA has the authority to implement a system of collection for a one-time setup fee for new registrations. The fee will not exceed $1000 and a recurring annual fee will not exceed $500. The charges will depend on the level of assistance to be provided by the GSA and anticipated costs related to the operation of the registration service.
  • State governments registering a second-level domain must register the full name of the State or include the State postal code in the name. Example of acceptable domain names include California.gov.
  • States may register as many domain names as they want. There is no imposed limitation.
  • Third-level registration for local and State government departments and programs is encouraged.
  • Second-level domain name registrations for counties, cities, and parishes must include their full name or abbreviation and must clearly reference the State where it is located. For counties and parishes, the word "county" and parish must be embedded. For example, Chicago-il.gov, Cityofcharleston-sc.gov, Richmondcounty-ga.gov, Townofdumfries-va.gov.
  • The GSA reserves the right to make exemptions to its domain name registration policy on a case by case basis, including third level domain name registrations.
  • All registrations are processed online at the GSA website and confirmations are sent within one business day.

.Gov Reform Initiative

On December 13, 2011, President Barack Obama launched the Campaign to Cut Waste and signed Executive Order 13576-Delivering an Efficient, Effective, and Accountable Government. Part of this campaign is the 'gov Reform Initiative which aims to identify and consolidate unnecessary websites to reduce costs and deliver better services to Americans. The .gov Task Force was tasked to lead the initiative. Members of the Task Force include Chief Information Officers, Web Managers, New Media Directors and other entities with extensive knowledge and experience regarding federal web requirements, policies and public & customer service. [7] [8] On December 16, 2011, the .gov Task Force published the State of the Federal Web Report with the following key findings:[9]

  • There is wide discrepancy in the number of available domain names and websites. Based on the self-reported .gov web inventory there are 1,489 domains and approximately 11,013 websites from 56 agencies.
  • Five major agencies reported 100 domains
  • Nineteen percent (19%) are inactive
  • Agencies plan to eliminate and merge 30% of domains and maintain the remaining 70%
  • Thirty five percent (35%) of agencies implement standard web policies and procedures across their departments/agencies.
  • A total of 250 web hosting providers service the agencies with an average of 10 providers per agency.
  • A majority of the resource decisions are made at the program or bureau level instead of strategically carrying out decisions across the agency to reduce expenditure.
  • A majority of agencies reported that they do not implement a uniform web design for the entire agency or department.
  • Only 10% of agencies reported the same performance metrics in order to evaluate their websites consistently.
  • A majority of agencies reported a highly decentralized web management structure.
  • All agencies customers to incorporate direct user feedback to improve their websites.
  • A majority of the agencies are also considering the following ideas to enhance their web services;
    • Change to a culture of customer service
    • Improve accountability
    • Implement strategy of continuous improvement
    • Write content in plain language and test websites regularly with users
    • Make online content more accessible, searchable, and easier to use
    • Improve services in different languages

.gov Task Force Members

A complete list of the current members of the .Gov Task Force is available here

Recent Issues

On August 14, 2013, .gov experienced downtime for a few Internet users. Verisign confirmed the downtime and attributed it to a DNSSEC issue related to a recent algorithm change.[10]


External Links