The End of DUNS Numbers

October 21, 2019

It’s the end of an era. Starting in December 2020, a new, non-proprietary unique entity identifier (UEI) will replace proprietary Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) numbers for companies doing business with the federal government. DUNS numbers are being phased out over the span of 18 months in order to allow for necessary changes to government systems. According to Nextgov, “Any systems that currently use the DUNS’ nine-digit format will have to be updated to use the longer ID.” After the transition, DUNS numbers will be retained in records for search, reference, and historical purposes.

Currently, contractors are required to obtain a DUNS number directly from Dun & Bradstreet before they can register in the System for Award Management. Contractors will request the new identifier through SAM, which will generate and assign it. This streamlines the process to both request and manage the identifier. For example, after the transition, contractors will not have to record changes to their legal name or address with an outside company. Instead, this can be done directly in SAM.

GSA selected Ernst & Young in March 2019 to supply the new, non-proprietary UEIs. Like the DUNS, the UEIs will be used during many processes surrounding contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements and in many government sites and systems. Here are some things to expect from the new format:

  • 12 characters instead of nine
  • Will not use “O” or “I” for clarity
  • The first five characters will differ from Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE)
  • Case-sensitive
  • Will not contain the entity’s EFT indicator.

In December 2020, entities registering in SAM for the first time will need to request a new UEI in before starting their entity registration. Any entity that currently has a DUNS number will automatically be assigned a new UEI in SAM. Organizations with multiple DUNS will obtain a UEI for each unique entity.

GSA does not want this change to be hard and neither does Aronson. Find more detailed information on GSA’s website or contact Jennifer Aubel at 301.231.6253.