First- and Second-Level Domains, Part 2: No but really. I want one.

This is the second post in a 2-part series on first-level and second-level domains.

In my last blog post, I outlined the reasons you shouldn’t have a second-level domain (e.g. somegeorgiaagency.gov). To sum up, the basic reasons were better search results when using a third-level domain (someagency.georgia.gov), and you have to manage your own domain name service (DNS).

If you think the advantages of a second level domain outweigh the extra complexity, there is a process for that.

The federal General Services Administration (GSA) requires State CIOs to approve all second level domains before they will give one to a state agency. We've approved some in the past, mostly for agencies led by constitutional officers and the judicial branch.

A good example was the Georgia court system, which asked for georgiacourts.gov. Because of the separation of powers, and they could point to 24+ other states that had the same separation of .gov domains, we thought the request was reasonable and supported it.

Here are the steps to secure a second level domain:

  1. Request an exemption through Georgia Technology Authority (GTA). The specific state standard you are asking to be exempted from is SA-03-007 Georgia.Gov Domain Name.

    The GSA administers the .gov domain. The GSA requires approval from the State CIO or the Governor before granting a second-level name to the “.gov” domain. GTA will not approve any new second-level “.gov” domains unless you give a sufficient justification to exempt yourself from the standard.
  2. If GTA grants the exemption, you’ll need to apply for the domain with the GSA. Part of the registration process with the GSA is for the State CIO to provide a letter supporting the request. There is a template for what the letter must contain described in the GSA registration process; we can fill some of that out, but would need the points of contact and description of intended use

In general, we encourage the use of the third-level domains for all requests; Of course, using the Drupal platform, you can use the directory structure as well — for example, dhs.georgia.gov/wic. These can be requested via support.georgia.gov.

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