The Congressional Budget Office estimated in a Nov. 21 report that the DOTGOV Online Trust in Government Act would cost very little to implement.

The legislation would “strengthen local government cybersecurity defenses” by providing resources and funding to help state and local governments switch to the .gov domain for websites and email addresses.

The CBO reports that currently the process through which Federal and nonfederal entities request internet domain names for governmental use is managed by the General Services Administration (GSA). However, under the legislation that responsibility would shift to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Currently GSA spends roughly $5 million each year to manage the program. CBO noted that “under the bill, CISA would pay for those operating expenses instead; thus, any change in spending subject to appropriation would be insignificant.”

The legislation also includes a provision to allow state and local entities to apply for homeland security grants to help fund the costs of transitioning to those governmental domain names. “GSA currently charges a $400 fee for each domain name request to recover the amount it pays vendors to process the transaction,” the CBO report explains. The bill “ would permit CISA to provide that service with or without reimbursement. A reduction in fee collections from nonfederal entities would be recorded as an increase in direct spending. CBO does not expect that CISA would waive the current fee; thus, any increase in direct spending would be insignificant over the 2020-2029 window, CBO estimates.”

The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., ranking member and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, respectively, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and James Lankford, Okla. The bill does not appear to have a companion bill in the House.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.