GSA says it is completing 85% of manual reviews for Unique Entity Identifier numbers within 1 month

The General Services Administration (GSA) Headquarters building in Washington, DC, November 21, 2016. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

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The General Services Administration is completing 85% of manual reviews required to assign Unique Entity Identifiers within one month, according to an agency spokesperson.

The spokesperson clarified the timeline for processing the manual reviews to FedScoop. The reviews are keenly awaited because any organization seeking to work with the federal government must obtain an autogenerated, 12-character Unique Entity Identifier (UEI).

While roughly 80% of entities don’t need to go through this process, those that do must validate their credentials by providing extra documentation.

Delays in the validation process have held up recent procurements, including the Polaris IT services solicitation, where GSA further extended the deadline for bid submissions after small offerers reported difficulties accessing the SAM.gov portal.

Among those entities that require manual validation, GSA is “surging” support and prioritizing “accordingly,” the spokesperson added.

As part of the transition to UEI numbers, a new database for validating the identity of entities receiving taxpayer dollars has been introduced.

GSA planned to complete the transition away from the proprietary, nine-digit Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number to the UEI on April 4. But subsequently entities from small businesses bidding on contracts to research institutes applying for grants reported delays receiving their UEIs.

“GSA recognizes the impact of delays for entities attempting to validate in SAM.gov and has made overcoming these challenges a top priority,” the spokesperson said. “Our goal as an agency is to make it easy for businesses, nonprofits, other governmental agencies and partners to do the critical work of government, and we’re committed to improving the validation process for all entities.”

At issue is the separate but related transition in Entity Validation Service (EVS) provider from Dun & Bradstreet to Ernst & Young, which also finished in April and introduced the new validation database.

EY did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.

“We have a high volume of tickets coming in, and we remain focused on completing each review as quickly as possible to minimize burden on businesses and other entities while maintaining the rigor and integrity of the entity validation process overall,” GSA’s spokesperson said.

Proper validation is “critical” in avoiding improper payments and procurement fraud, they added.

GSA continues to take steps to resolve issues, improve response times and provide immediate relief — 95% of manual reviews being resolved within two months. Improved workflow and outreach has meant that most entities only need one review to complete their validation, up 30 percentage points, the spokesperson said.

“Once an entity is successfully validated, they are unlikely to face a similar problem again because their validated information is in the new database for future annual renewals,” they added.

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General Services Administration (GSA), Integrated Award Environment, Sam.gov, unique entity identifier (UEI)
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