Change.gov You Can Believe In

Michelle Malkin has an interesting post entitled “Document drop: The story behind Change.gov.”

The short version:  The Government Services Agency initially denied the Obama transition team the domain “change.gov” on numerous grounds: 1) The name was too generic, violating “canonical” rules; 2) the name was political — a campaign slogan — and thus violated the rules for the .gov domain; and 3) Obama was not actually president or even, at the time of application, technically president-elect.  Ultimately, upon appeal, they granted a waiver for no apparent reason.

Malkin provides detailed analysis including screencaps of the various emails and memeoranda exchanged as part of the process.

In the grand scheme of things, I don’t much care.  Indeed, domain naming protocols have gotten so blurry in recent years that it never really dawned on me that change.gov was a government website.  Still, the original reasons for denial of application strike me as reasonable, the reasons offered in the appeal were dubious, and no reasoning at all seems to have driven the change of heart at GSA.

FILED UNDER: General, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. caj says:

    Just something else to waste time and keep the Obama nonsense going. Such a pointless load of junk. Who really cares!!!!

  2. odograph says:

    It’s a weird phenomena. I left a comment and change.gov and have been spammed ever since.

    … I don’t know, maybe hinging on my 5th decade i don’t get it. The kids today might expect a more “communicative” government.

    (As an aside, the company I work for gave me an iPhone as a Christmas bonus. It is way more useful than I expected it to be. OTB is pretty good on small aperture. There is an annoying re-display that makes me re-scroll.)

  3. JKB says:

    The real question is, will they permit short.change.gov for those who increasingly feel the Obama change promise isn’t what they were led to believe?

  4. Bithead says:

    Still, the original reasons for denial of application strike me as reasonable, the reasons offered in the appeal were dubious, and no reasoning at all seems to have driven the change of heart at GSA.

    Just one more incident to establish the pattern of behavior, James.

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Bit, James does not seem to care of Obama’s desire to transform America. I just want to know what we will be transformed into? We were the most free, richest nation. Way more generous than any other country. I know there are those who think America is an evil nation. If so, explain Canada.

  6. Bithead says:

    Well, for one thing, he’s about changing it to a place where mere laws don’t apply to him.

  7. Tano says:

    What a ridiculous waste of time, James.
    Now you are going to Malkin to find copy?
    Geez buddy, get back on track, willya? You can be so much better than you have been lately…

  8. Bithead says:

    Heh.
    You’d rather he restrict himself to the New York Times, and Glenn Greenwald, I take you?

  9. odograph says:

    Interesting, this change.gov post is popular enough that it is gaining ground at memeorandum:

    “The search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us”

    As I’ve predicted here before, many of you guys will end up loving it … I predict Obama is going pro-nuke.

  10. odograph says:

    BTW James, if you want to do add a little to the name story, explain to me why the GSA felt it was their role.

    It’s still ICANN, right?

    “ICANN (pronounced /aɪkæn/, eye-can) is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Headquartered in Marina Del Rey, California, United States, ICANN is a non-profit corporation that was created on September 18, 1998 in order to oversee a number of Internet-related tasks previously performed directly on behalf of the U.S. government by other organizations, notably the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).”

    wikipedia

    Given the global naming responsibility, I can see the ICANN perhaps deletaging *.us.gov to some US governmental organ, but if anything the change.gov is an international question ;-). it supersedes change.uk.gov or change.jp.gov, etc.

    Anyway, my reading of Malkin’s notes says that they went outside the GSA because (and get this, Bithead) the GSA doesn’t own .gov anyway. it only owns gsa areas of the .gov domain (for current *.us.gov operations, I’d guess). No “laws” to be broken.

    Overall it sounds like a tempest in a teapot, tempered with some lack of ICANN understanding.

  11. Bithead says:

    My understanding of the matter was that ICANN gave the GSA the entire top level, and the GSA deals with it past that.

  12. Bithead says:

    (and get this, Bithead) the GSA doesn’t own .gov anyway.

    Arrrhhhhh Sorry, wrong answer.

    Why is .gov not mentioned above? How can I register a .gov domain name?

    The .gov registry does not currently have a contract with ICANN. The .gov top-level domain is operated by the United States General Services Administration. For more information on registering names in .gov, see http://www.nic.gov.

  13. anjin-san says:

    We were the most free, richest nation.

    Ah yes, the days before Bush…

  14. odograph says:

    Darn. I Was Wrong.

  15. steve s says:

    I’m an Obama supporter, but I admit he’s been a bit presumptuous. A minor sin. Is there an “office of the president elect”? not to my knowledge.

    That said, I wish the lame-duck period was reduced, and the new pres could take office, say, a month after the election. The nearly 3-month period leads to certain problems. I don’t think the previous president should be escorted from the building by security, like I’ve been at several private-sector jobs, but we need to make the change more efficient.

  16. Michael says:

    My understanding of the matter was that ICANN gave the GSA the entire top level, and the GSA deals with it past that.

    Right, ICANN only controlled .com, .net, .org, .edu and (I think) .us TLDs. It never even enforced the original restrictions on those, when I worked for an ISP in the late 90s, we could register a .edu or .org for anybody that wanted one, so this flap about breaking the rules for a .gov makes me laugh. Besides, now that they’re going to allow generic TLDs, he could register change.newgov or change.wecanbelieveinor or whatever the hell else he wants.

  17. Bithead says:

    when I worked for an ISP in the late 90s, we could register a .edu or .org for anybody that wanted one, so this flap about breaking the rules for a .gov makes me laugh.

    It shouldn’t.
    Whereas ICANN is toothless, I think you’ll find the federal government isn’t.

  18. Thomas Paine says:

    I dont get it… what is the problem here?

  19. odograph says:

    What was the problem? A government agency had internal bureaucratic rules about how to assign the names they administered. A new President wanted a certain name, and the administration said it violated their rules (not “laws”) … until they realized … wait a minute he’ll be the President, and we are in the Administrative Branch! Doh.

  20. Thomas Paine says:

    ok, so once again, whats the problem?
    You guys were sure not ones for following rules over the past 8 years. Things change quickly, dont they?

  21. DL says:

    After thorough study of the facts I’ve concluded that the domain name was finally awarded pri,marily because the KPS effect was in play.

    KPS is the Kathleen Parker Syndrone.

  22. Thomas Paine says:

    so?