Office of General Services

New York State Office of General Services - Empire State Plaza Farmers Market

Flags on State Office Buildings


It is the policy of the Office of General Services to provide appropriate arrangements for the display of the National and State flags on the exterior of all facilities under its jurisdiction. General guidelines include:

Flags at Half-Staff 

The national flag should be displayed at half-staff on the days noted below, or on other days by special proclamation of the United States President or New York State Governor.

Frequently Asked Questions 

For additional information about flag display policy, refer to Title 4 U.S. Code (Flag Code) and New York State Executive Law, Article 19.

Who can order flags to half-mast for my school district, town, lodge, etc.?

Flags at individual schools, counties, towns, or other organizations and municipalities are under the supervision and control of the locality in which they reside. As a general practice, most local governments follow the lead established by the federal and state governments. The Office of General Services is solely responsible for the display of flags on the Capitol and other OGS-managed public buildings.

Can we get the flags flown at half-mast at the Capitol or statewide for our "cause"?

No. New York State Executive Law, Article 19, Section 400, states: "Because of the flag's significance as a symbol of our country, and the feeling that our citizens have towards it, the flag should not be a vehicle for the expression of political, social or economic philosophy as some groups and individuals have tried to use it."

Will the Governor order the flags down for a fire fighter or a police officer who died in the line of duty?

The Governor may decide to lower the flags to commemorate the death of a personage of national or state standing, or of a local member of the armed forces, public servant, or other official who, in the opinion of the local agency concerned, contributed to the community. It may also be flown at half-staff during special periods of mourning designated by the President of the United States or New York State Governor.

Which flag goes under, or to the right of the other?

No other flag or pennant should be placed above, or if on the same level, to the right of the American flag, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel.

The American flag should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states, and locations are grouped and displayed from staffs.

When flags of states, cities, or localities are flown on the same halyard with the American flag, the American flag should always be at the peak. When flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No flags or pennants may be placed above or to the right of the American flag.

What is the order of precedence when there are two flagpoles and three flags?

The American flag always takes precedence. Generally, the third flag is placed on the same pole, but under the national flag.

Why isn't the POW-MIA flag flown state-wide every day? Why is it flown every day on the New York State Thruway?

The POW-MIA flag is displayed over all state buildings and facilities on Memorial Day, POW Remembrance Day, and Veterans Day. The flag should be displayed beneath the American flag if there is no third staff available.

By proclamation of the Governor, since April 9, 1997, the POW-MIA flags have flown daily at the New York State Thruway's 27 travel plazas.

Why are flags flown at half-staff on September 11?

A joint resolution of Congress named September 11 as Patriot Day. The resolution requested that the President, each year, issues a proclamation asking states to lower their flags to half-staff on September 11. Every year, the President issues this proclamation and the tradition is expected to continue.

Purchase a United States or New York State Flag 

The New York State Office of General Services (OGS) provides the public with the opportunity to purchase a Made-in-America United States or New York State flag for a nominal fee. In addition, OGS offers the option of having your flag flown over the New York State Capitol at no extra charge. OGS will also arrange to have a flag that you already own flown over the New York State Capitol.

Use the Flag Purchase Form to place your order. This form is a fillable form that can be typed into or printed and manually filled out. Save and print your completed form and mail with your check or money order to:

New York State Office of General Services
Executive Department
36th Floor, Corning Tower
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12242
Attn: Dawn Schlenker