If you’ve ever applied for a grant from the federal government, you were first required to obtain a DUNS number from Dun and Bradstreet.
Technically called the Data Universal Numbering System, your DUNS number served as your organization’s unique identifier for federal contracting purposes. It essentially proved you are who you say you are, prevented duplication, and kept your organization from getting lost in the behemoth that is the federal government.
For the past several years, the feds have been planning to move away from DUNS numbers. And now, that change is here.
Starting next week, DUNS numbers are no longer required to do business with a federal entity. Instead, a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) will be used to verify and validate all federal contractors, including grant recipients.
Here’s the good news. If you are already registered with System Award Management (SAM), you don’t need to do anything. Your UEI has already been created. Even if the SAM registration is inactive, your organization will be automatically assigned a UEI.
Your shiny new UEI has probably already been sent to you. If not, you can find it by logging into SAM.gov. If you can’t find it, here’s a handy tutorial.
New SAM registrants
If you’ve never registered with SAM, you won’t be given a UEI. You’ll need to do this before you can apply for federal grants.
Fortunately, it’s easy to do. And by removing the requirement for a DUNS number, the process is much more streamlined. That in itself is amazing since “streamlined” and “federal government” don’t often appear in the same sentence together.
So how do you get a UEI? Here are step-by-step instructions.
- Go to SAM.gov. Click on “Register Your Entity.”
- Enter your organization’s legal name and address.
- You’ll be given potential matches.
- Confirm a match if it appears. You’ll then receive a UEI for your organization.
- If a match does not appear, try editing the legal name and address. If that doesn’t work, you’ll have the option to complete the full entity registration process or to contact the Federal Service Desk.
**An important note: If you register for a UEI before April 4, 2022, you’ll be instructed to obtain a DUNS number. After April 4, you’ll be able to obtain a UEI on Sam.gov.**
Why the change?
According to the federal government, the change is to eliminate the middleman. Using the DUNS system, registrants had to go through a private third party for validation and assignment of a number before they could register on SAMS. It was a two-step process.
Eliminating the third-party requirement makes it easier to register or update your information on SAM.gov. The feds will still use a third party to validate federal contractors, but it will be done behind the scenes. Therefore, if there’s a change in the validating company, the process for organizations won’t change.
A big change
This is a marked departure from the federal government’s standard operating procedure for contractor registration. It’ll very likely cause some confusion for the foreseeable future since any “how to write a grant” guide you encounter will probably reference the need to get a DUNS number.
Additionally, we’ve already seen some amended grant deadlines because of this change. One opportunity we’re working on went from having a due date of April 1 to April 8. So be sure to look for updated information for anything you’ve got in progress.
If you run into issues, we’re here to help. Just reach out, and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!