Procedure: Obtaining a Dot Gov Domain
This outlines the required external and internal steps for obtaining a dot gov (.gov) domain. The procedure does not apply to subdomains of www.epa.gov. The General Services Administration (GSA) has the authority to oversee and issue new dot gov domains via the GSA .GOV Domain Name Registration Service. GSA requires a letter from the EPA’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) in addition to specific requirements outlined in this procedure.
On this page:
- Required Steps
- Full metadata about this standard
Domain name is a name assigned to an Internet server. This is the name that you request from GSA. Typically, you would apply this name to a domain name server. A domain name locates the organization or other entity on the Internet. The dot gov part of the domain name reflects the purpose of the organization or entity. This part is called the Top- Level Domain name. The Second-Level Domain name to the left of the dot gov maps to a readable version of the Internet address. The Domain Name server has a registry of Internet Protocol (IP) address numbers that relate to the readable text name. (41 CFR Part 102-173).
EPA’s primary domain name is www.epa.gov. www.epa.gov refers to the EPA’s primary public access website that provides publicly accessible data and information.
Subdomain is a domain that is a part of a larger domain. Examples include echo.epa.gov and archive.epa.gov.
.GOV Domain Name Registration Service refers to GSA’s program for registering dot gov domains.
Dot gov (or Internet Gov Domain) refers to domain names ending with a ".gov" suffix. The Internet GOV domain is another way of expressing the collection of dot gov domain names. (41 CFR Part 102-173)
EPA Web environment includes the servers that provides unrestricted access to EPA’s public information. The Agency central server cluster, hosted by the National Computer Center (NCC), is the official server domain location for Agency public communications via the Web.
External GSA Requirements
- In order for EPA’s CIO to make the request to GSA, EPA must be the hosting agency and the content must reside on EPA’s servers. If EPA is partnering with another federal agency and that agency is hosting the content on their server, then that agency’s CIO is responsible for requesting the dot gov domain.
- The program or initiative must be a large-scale or far-reaching program that is unique to EPA and its partners. A partnership that only impacts a single state or a limited geographical region or a very small group of people is not likely to be a strong candidate for a dot gov domain name. The content must be distinct from existing content at www.epa.gov.
- New dot gov domains must follow requirements outlined in:
- Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum, Policies for Dot Gov Domain Issuance for Federal Agency Public Websites (PDF), 2 pp., 236 KB, December 8, 2014
- OMB Memorandum M-15-13, "Policy to Require Secure Connections across Federal Websites and Web Services" (PDF), 5 pp., 258 KB, June 8, 2015 and
- Checklist of Requirements for Federal Websites and Digital Services including OMB Memorandum M-05-04 "Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites" (PDF).5 pp., 48 KB, December 17, 2004
- GSA may deny an Agency’s request for a specific domain name. From the GSA.Gov Domain Name Registration Service program requirements:
Every .gov domain name application is carefully examined to ensure domain names requested will not create misunderstandings about the purpose of domains and their content. GSA arbitrates domain name issues and reserves the right to deny domain name requests that do not adequately meet requirements. All domain requests and requests for exception to policy will come from the CIO for Federal and State level domains.
- GSA must have a letter from EPA's CIO in order to process the request. (Refer to Internal EPA Requirements).
- The requesting office must pay an annual fee of $400 via a bank card for the dot gov domain (to the GSA registration service).
- Each domain must have 3 unique Points of Contact (POCs). GSA does not allow a single POC to serve in multiple roles, however, a person may be a POC on several different dot gov domains. EPA is expected to keep its POCs up-to-date with GSA on a regular basis. Please refer to Federal Domain Points of Contact (POCs) for more information.
- The Administrative POC is the person who controls the content of the domain and is the manager of the operations of the domain.
- The Billing POC is the person who pays for the domain.
- The Technical POC is the person who operates the Domain Name System (DNS) and takes care of technical operations such as security patches, programming, etc.
Internal EPA Requirements
- Consult with the Office of Mission Support (OMS) Office of Information Management (OIM) and the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) Office of Web Communications (OWC) to determine if it will be feasible or appropriate to obtain a non-EPA dot gov site.
- All site owners must publish a vulnerability disclosure policy (VDP) as a public web page in plain text or HTML at the “/vulnerability-disclosure-policy” path.
- Request permission for the dot gov domain name from EPA's CIO using the Domain Request Memo Template(3 pp, 36 K) . The signed memo request from your Senior Information Official and Web Council Member must be routed through the National Web Infrastructure Manager to the CIO. OIM will review the request and make recommendations to the CIO. To start the process, or for any questions, contact OIM's Domain Manager.
- The requesting office should allow a minimum of 4-6 weeks* for the entire process of requesting and obtaining a dot gov domain. This time includes working with OIM and OWC, the requesting office obtaining signature(s) from office management on the memo request, OIM to review and recommend to the CIO, the CIO review and approval (if granted), and for GSA to process the request, as well as working with the NCC and GSA to set up the domain.
*There are times when the dot gov domain must be set up quickly so it is possible to expedite this process in such cases.
- After the CIO has reviewed request, OIM will send your office an electronic version of the signed CIO’s request letter (if approved) to transmit to GSA to initiate the GSA process. A signed paper copy will be provided as well.
- It is the requesting office's responsibility to send the CIO’s request letter to the GSA .gov Domain Name Registration Service (fax and email is available) and work with the NCC to establish the new dot gov domain. After the CIO’s request is transmitted to GSA, GSA typically takes 48 hours to verify and review the request. The CIO’s approval does not guarantee the domain will be established. GSA can approve or deny the request. If GSA approves the request, then GSA will contact the POC to begin the process of setting up the new dot gov domain with the NCC.
Examples of different EPA dot gov domains include: energystar.gov and airnow.gov.
In 2011, OMB issued a freeze on all new dot gov domains via OMB M-11-24 (PDF) (6 pp., 2.37 MB, June 13, 2011) in order to streamline and simplify access to government information and remove duplicative and outdated content. Since 2011, OMB has worked with federal agencies to develop a new policy for how dot gov domains are issued. This policy was issued December 8, 2014 via OMB Memorandum, Policies for Dot Gov Domain Issuance for Federal Agency Public Websites (PDF), (2 pp., 236 KB). Agencies must adhere to the guiding principles of consolidation and cost-efficiency; and shall continue to limit the proliferation of stand-alone websites and infrastructure. In other words, the number of dot gov domains should remain small and selective to keep access to government information simple.
However, there are cases where EPA works in partnership with other federal agencies or organizations on a program or initiative that is so far-reaching and distinct from www.epa.gov that a separate domain may be necessary. In such cases, EPA must consider the external GSA requirements and internal EPA requirements to determine if that program or initiative necessitates a dot gov address that is separate from EPA.
There are no exemptions from these requirements.
Full Metadata about this standard
Name Obtaining a Dot Gov domain
Required or Recommended Required
Effective date 10/11/2019
Date approved 10/10/2019
Category Area Setup
Web Council review by 10/11/2022 (or earlier if deemed necessary by the Web Council)
Governing Policy Web Governance and Management