While some people think that governmental websites have higher authority than a .com or other TLD, the debate is still ongoing. This question, now, is whether .gov sites should automatically be indexed in Google, of if they should wait until the trust is passed to the domain. A Cre8asite Forums thread points to a Google Groups thread about why a particular .gov site, which has been submitted to Google, has not yet been indexed.
In the Google Groups thread, the .gov webmaster is having a tough time understanding the Google policies about how the number and quality of inbound links helps sites get discovered.
For a small state gov't. program site directed at a small percentage of the population with few inbound links currently, that can be a problem. So, people who need to find this program must wait for "good" links? Functionality dictates service to citizens?
JohnMu puts it in perspective for the webmaster. It does need numerous quality links so that Google (and its users) understand its importance.
If the program is good, it will get links and then it will get indexed. If it does not get links, chances are nobody is interested in finding it either :-)
Over at Cre8asite Forums, the discussion continues. Moderator joedolson believes that giving preference could mean spam, spam, and more spam.
If .gov sites could also be given free (and foolproof) security checks to verify against hacking and spamming, sure - give 'em preference. Otherwise, I think you're just opening up for problems.
Similarly, moderator EGOL believes that everyone needs to earn their rankings and that having a .gov TLD does not automatically mean that they deserve preferential treatment by the search engines:
I spent one of my careers as a manager at a government agency... if they want visibility they need to earn it just like anyone else. If they want newspaper or TV or radio exposure they figure it out and pay the freight... why should the web be any different?