Unique Entity IDs are being issued now and the General Services Administration team wants help testing the system that assigns and manages the new identifier.
The federal government is getting ready to institute a new data format for identifying organizations doing business with agencies and just released a new help resource for the transition and a call for superusers to test the system that will manage it all.
The final transition from the Data Universal Numbering System, or D-U-N-S, to the new Unique Entity ID is set for April 4, 2022. The cutover will be the culmination of nearly four years of preparation by entities across government and the private sector and the end of a system that dominated the federal space for nearly 60 years.
Since it was established by Dun & Bradstreet in 1962 and later codified in the Federal Acquisition Regulation in 1998, a Data Universal Numbering System, or D-U-N-S, number has been issued to every organization doing business with the government, functioning as a sort of Social Security number for contractors, grantees, universities, research centers, incubators, charities and others.
GSA, which administers the program, opened the contract to new vendors for the first time in 2018 and awarded the new contract in March 2019 to Ernst & Young, which will administer the new Unique Entity ID and manage the transition from Dun & Bradstreet.
The transition was originally planned for December 2020. However, after hearing from the community, GSA opted to extend the deadline to April 2022 in order to begin issuing UEI numbers during the transition, enabling agencies to test systems using both numbers ahead of the final cutover.
UEI numbers are now being issued through SAM.gov. But before the big switch happens in April, GSA wants to make sure the system for issuing and managing the IDs functions as intended—and in a way that works for users.
The Integrated Award Environment program team put out a call for testers on the industry outreach site Interact.gov.
“Volunteers get scripts which walk through various Unique Entity ID (SAM) functions, such as requesting and receiving a Unique Entity ID (SAM) or how to deal with error scenarios,” the post states. “Each test script takes about 20 minutes or less. You test at your own pace and send us your feedback.”
Testing the new identifier is key, as the new format—UEI is a 12-digit alphanumeric code, whereas D-U-N-S is a nine-number string—has to be programmed into every aspect of the process.
While the latest call for testers will focus on operations within SAM.gov, the full scope of the ongoing reengineering effort spans all of government and a good chunk of the private sector.
“This is a pretty unique business problem,” an agency official working through the transition told Nextgov last year. “This is not just large-scale system modernization. This is the most interdependent thing about doing business between the federal government and a non-federal entity—it’s at the heart of it.”
A failure of any single system not properly configured to use the new UEI number could cascade into other systems, precipitating multiple failures, officials said.
The UEI FAQ is broken down into sections based on how users interact with SAM.gov, such as entity managers, subcontractors, data miners and others.