SAM.gov outage planned this weekend as transition away from DUNS numbers takes effect

GSA headquarters. (18F photo)

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The General Services Administration plans to take SAM.gov and other systems down this weekend as it completes its transition to a new unique entity identifier for those doing business with the federal government.

SAM.gov will be down from 8 p.m. ET April 1 to 9 a.m. ET April 4 — with all traces of the proprietary, nine-digit Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number being removed from the site, in favor of the automatically generated, 12-character unique entity identifier (UEI) — as will the five other Integrated Award Environment (IAE) systems at scheduled intervals.

The transition began in 2016 with GSA competing backend entity validation services, which moved from Dun & Bradstreet to Ernst & Young, but the move to the UEI started in 2019 has taken longer than the anticipated 18 months due to pandemic delays.

“Obviously this is a big change supported by new processes, and there’s going to be an adjustment period,” Meredith “Memi” Whitehead, deputy assistant commissioner of the IAE, told FedScoop. “Any transition of this magnitude will have glitches, but I’m confident that our systems are ready, and I’m confident that we’ve brought together the team that will help identify and triage them as they arise afterward.”

Every agency is responsible for meeting the Office of Management and Budget‘s deadline for transitioning their systems and business processes to using the UEI by April 4, and users have all the information they need to prepare, Whitehead added.

GSA spent the last two-and-a-half years providing agencies with the necessary interfaces, technical specifications and supporting materials, and all have been operating in a parallel transition environment for more than six months — allowing each to time their move from DUNS to UEI. More than 3,000 users signed into its third and final stakeholder forum on the transition last week.

Information for users has been compiled and made available via a big, green button on the Federal Service Desk homepage or the top of SAM.gov.

Transitioning IAE systems first made sense because they’re “upstream” from the rest of government, Whitehead said.

“We actually have had some agencies already make the transition and been reporting and sending data and exchanging data using the unique entity identifier as the identifier,” she added.

Bringing the identification process in house makes doing business with the government more convenient because SAM.gov already assigned UEIs to registered entities and will automatically generate them for new registrants — with more than 2.5 million already issued.

Some users need to update their saved searches and ad hoc reports in SAM.gov, as well as ensure sub-awardees have UEIs, for ease of reporting on FSRS.gov, before April 4.

The UEI transition is part of GSA’s larger strategy to make it easier for contractors to work with government through IT modernization and digital service delivery.

“It’s probably one of the most, if not the most, complex governmentwide IT transitions in decades,” Whitehead said.

An even bigger modernization effort will be merging the five remaining IAE systems into SAM.gov, she added.

But that doesn’t mean work on the UEI will end.

“After this really we’re looking to iterate and continue to improve the user experience,” Whitehead said.

-In this Story-

Dun & Bradstreet, DUNS number, Ernst & Young, General Services Administration (GSA), Integrated Award Environment, IT Modernization, Meredith Whitehead, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Sam.gov, unique entity identifier (UEI)
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