GSA opens the door for new classification system with RFI

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The General Services Administration is looking for a new way to classify the contractors and grant and loan recipients it does business with.

The agency issued a request for information for entity validation services, seeking an identifier and unique numbering system for its Integrated Award Environment and System for Award Management.

“The purpose of this procurement is to obtain the necessary contractor support to perform Entity Validation Services for the express purpose of protecting the integrity of the taxpayer’s dollars throughout the federal award process and to enable the GSA Office of Integrated Award Environment to fulfill its mission,” the draft performance work statement said.

The federal government has used Dun & Bradstreet’s Data Universal Numbering System, or DUNS number, for electronic commerce since 1994. The DUNS number became the official contractor identifier for the Federal Acquisition Regulation in 1998, according to the Dun & Bradstreet website.

However, broader pushes to put contractor data on open source systems have been afoot with the 2014 Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act, and current pending legislation like the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary Government Data Act, which was added as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act in September.

The OPEN Government Data Act calls for federal agencies to use open-source, machine-readable data formats to publish their data sets and has been backed by organizations like the Data Coalition and Sunlight Foundation.

The draft solicitation calls for a system with machine-readable formats in its technical requirements, as well as establishing a Unique Entity Identifier that can be used by the public at the government’s discretion.

Officials at Dun & Bradstreet said in an emailed statement that it continues to support the federal government’s validation services and would hope to do so in the future.

“The federal government has leveraged the D-U-N-S® Number for the past 40 years because it provides critical data and insights into the government’s business partners and programs, including beneficial ownership, company hierarchy linkage and historical financial data, as well as other information that the government needs to effectively manage and run its operations,” the statement read. “Dun & Bradstreet believes that our government partners will continue to find value in what we deliver to support the federal government across a multitude of missions.”

This RFI follows another from February for entity validation services. GSA officials said in a statement that the agency decided to submit a second RFI after initial feedback from public and private stakeholders. The new RFI has a Nov. 20 deadline for responses

 

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DATA Act, General Services Administration, Open Data policy, RFI