Businesses of all sizes should know of a significant change in the way government grants and contracts will be handled. The General Services Administration (GSA) announced that they are changing vendors for their federal contractor numbering system – better known as the DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System.) The system update won’t change right away, but here’s what you should know moving forward.
What is the DUNS?
The Data Universal Numbering System is a long-held practice for assigning businesses or organizations a unique identifier that can be used when applying for grants or contract opportunities through the government. The GSA runs contracting programs is the agency responsible for making sure businesses follow correct procedures when looking to be awarded government business – including ensuring their application includes a valid DUNS.
Since 1962, Dun & Bradstreet has managed much of the system, including the DUNS program – an addition to the system brought about by regulation in 1998. For twenty years, D&B has held the contract for managing validation and records. That all changed last year when the GSA announced they were opening up the role to competing bids.
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What is a UEI?
Update: The Unique Entity Identifier has now replaced the D-U-N-S number for use in federal government databases. Learn more here.
What Can Businesses Expect?
The new partnership aims to make it easier to merge and secure data, simplifying how businesses compete for and renew government contracts and grants.
How the Changes May Affect Vendors and Marketers
Under the old system, some government officials revealed concern that D&B had too much control over the use and licensing of the DUNS number, often charging third parties to access data on grants and contracts. While the GSA stated that Ernst & Young will also have proprietary ownership right to some of the data that was stored under the DUNS system, there’s no word yet on how data rights and the cost to access information will be handled. Getting a UEI (similar to getting a DUNS) will be free to businesses and organizations registering with the new GSA system.
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This article was originally written on April 17, 2019 and updated on April 28, 2022.
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