A DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number is a unique nine-digit number assigned by Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) for each physical location of a business. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provision or clause 52.204-6 requires an offeror to provide its DUNS number when it submits an offer to the federal government. FAR 4.11 also requires contractors to complete their Central Contractor Registration (CCR) before receiving government contract awards above the micro-purchase threshold (generally $3,000, but $2,000 for construction and $2,500 for services). Obtaining a DUNS number is the first step in the CCR registration process.
The General Services Administration (GSA) has a contract with Dun & Bradstreet to provide free DUNS numbers to businesses that need them in order to register in CCR. In the past, a business that needed a DUNS number for government contracting purposes could just call D&B, verify their information, and often receive it right over the phone. The process used to be really quick and easy! D&B now requires business owners to request DUNS numbers through their online webform and iUpdate process (this is the link for government contractors and grant applicants; if you click on any of D&B’s other links to obtain a DUNS number, you may find yourself inadvertently subscribing to a fee-based service). Quick and easy? Not so much.
Before beginning the iUpdate process, it is important to understand that D&B is in the business of selling credit information and other data about the companies in its database. D&B tracks public company records, such as UCC filings and bankruptcy filings, as well as business credit information that you might not have realized was out there. The firm even applies mathematical models to data about your business to develop a commercial credit score for it. You may be more familiar with the information in your personal credit report; your commercial credit score is an analogous evaluation of the risk involved in dealing with your company. However, the truth is that most owners of very small businesses are required to sign personal guarantees to obtain business credit, and their personal credit scores are likely to be far more important than their commercial credit scores in determining their creditworthiness. Also, just as there may be inaccurate information in your personal credit file disclosure, it is possible that D&B has inaccurate information on file for your business, so it’s not a bad idea to review this information. The good news is that if you use D&B’s new iUpdate process to create an account and obtain your DUNS number, you will be able to review and update the information that D&B has on file for your company, free of charge. You do not need to purchase anything that D&B sells in order to do business with the federal government.
If your business legal structure required a filing with the Secretary of State (such as a corporation or limited liability company), if you have ever applied for a business loan, or if you have a business telephone number, D&B may have already assigned a DUNS number for your business. You can find out by searching for your company and continuing to the iUpdate portal. Once you verify your identity, create an iUpdate account, answer security questions, and identify yourself as a government contractor, you will have access to your business summary and DUNS number. If you search and find that D&B doesn’t have your company on file, you will be able to go through a similar process to request a DUNS number.
The Wyoming PTAC team will be providing a free pre-conference training session at the GRO-Biz Conference & Idea Expo on February 22, 2012 in Laramie, and we will go over the new process for obtaining a DUNS number and other government contracting basics. For free and confidential one-on-one assistance with obtaining a DUNS number, using the iUpdate system to manage the information in your D&B report, or to find out more about the GRO-Biz Conference & Idea Expo, contact the Wyoming PTAC team: Jeff Sneddon in Casper (email@example.com, 307.234.3203); Natasha Stahla in Cheyenne (firstname.lastname@example.org, 307.637.5029); or me in Thermopolis (email@example.com, 307.921.8499).