When users see a web site with the “.gov” extension, they can be assured they’re dealing with a legitimate government organization.
That’s the reasoning behind Washington County’s upcoming move from co.washington.mn.us to a new, more secure domain — washingtoncountymn.gov — and updating each county employee’s email address with the new domain.
“The transition is all about security,” Adam Larson, the county’s chief information officer, said Tuesday.
County Board members were briefed on the switch during a workshop on Tuesday morning at the Washington County Government Center in Stillwater.
The “.gov” extension can be used only by U.S.-based government organizations. It is managed by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Larson said.
Ramsey County has already obtained the ramseycountymn.gov URL, which currently redirects to ramseycounty.us, according to Rose Lindsay, county communications director. The county is seeking proposals for a qualified contractor to assist in replatforming its websites before November 2025.
“As part of this process, the county will take into consideration a full migration to a .gov URL extension,” Lindsay said in an email to the Pioneer Press.
As for Dakota County, chief communications officer Mary Beth Schubert said in an email that the county has no current plans to change its domain addresses.
Washington County officials plan to have the framework in place for the switch in the next month or two and have it up and running by the general election, which is Nov. 5, Larson said.
Both the old and new addresses will work “for as long as needed,” Larson said, but he expects the old ones to sunset in two years or so.
The change is part of a push by the federal government, which regulates the use of “.gov,” to standardize governmental domains.
The passage of the DOTGOV Online Trust in Government Act in 2020 transferred the “.gov” internet domain program from the General Services Administration to CISA and provided support for expanding “.gov” usage among public entities.
Several counties in the metropolitan area have already made the transition, including Anoka, Carver, Scott, St. Croix County, Wis., Mille Lacs and Chisago, Larson said.
Frederick Melo and Maraya King contributed to this report.