Unique Identification Codes for Federal Contractors: DUNS Numbers and CAGE Codes [May 5, 2016] [open pdf - 784KB]
"An essential element of the federal government's acquisition system is the capability to identify the businesses, and other types of entities, that do work for the government. Accurate identification of potential contractors and incumbent contractors facilitates a host of procurement processes while contributing to the transparency of federal government procurement. The federal government uses a proprietary system, Dun & Bradstreet's (D&B's) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS), to uniquely identify the entities with which it does business. At no cost to the applicant, D&B assigns a DUNS number-a nine-digit unique identification code-to prospective government contractors. (Businesses that are not would-be government contractors also may apply for a DUNS number.) The federal government's use of DUNS, however, is not limited to the identification numbers. D&B provides, pursuant to its contract with the General Services of Administration (GSA), 7 types of software products and 14 data products that enable the government to use DUNS for a variety of acquisition-related functions, such as paying contractors. Furthermore, approximately 80 data systems within the federal government contain DUNS information. Congress may have concerns regarding the continued use of DUNS numbers and has expressed interest in exploring other options. At the request of a Senate subcommittee, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined the costs and data restrictions involved with using a proprietary identification system and studied alternatives for identification numbers for government contractors. The implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act; P.L. 113-101) is accompanied by similar, significant interest within Congress-and within the agencies charged with implementing the act-for exploring options for a nonproprietary contractor identification system."
CRS Report for Congress, R44490
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html