GSA begins transition to new identifier replacing DUNS

The DUNS number is being phased out in favor of a non-proprietary alternative for doing business with the government.
(Getty Images)

July marks the start of the 18-month shift to a new unique entity identifier (UEI) for doing business with the government.

In December 2020, the System for Award Management website,, will stop using the proprietary, nine-digit Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number supplied by Dun & Bradstreet.

The General Services Administration selected Ernst & Young to supply a non-proprietary UEI for identifying entities during the awards process for things like contracts, grants and cooperative agreements — in and other systems.

While GSA develops tools to generate new UEIs and begins assigning them, the DUNS number will remain the official UEI for registering with SAM.


GSA is also streamlining UEI request, registration and support processes by allowing entities to handle all three through Previously Dun & Bradstreet assigned DUNS numbers before entities could register on and provided technical support.

In the future, will assign UEIs as 12-character alpha-numeric values — all letters being capitalized.

UEIs won’t use the letters O or I to avoid confusion, use 0 as the first character for ease of data imports, use nine-digit sequences like the DUNS number, have the first five characters conflict with Commercial and Government Entity codes, be case sensitive, or contain the entity’s Electronic Funds Transfer indicator. The final character will be a checksum of the first 11 to detect errors in data.

The entities required to register on haven’t changed, and all forms using the DUNS number will be updated.

UEIs will automatically be assigned to existing entities within and made available for viewing. Large businesses with multiple DUNS numbers will receive multiple, corresponding UEIs.


During the transition phase, entities assigned UEIs will still need to ensure that the agency they’re responding to has switched over to the new identifier or else continue using their old DUNS number.

GSA has provided and explainer video with more details.

Dave Nyczepir

Written by Dave Nyczepir

Dave Nyczepir is a technology reporter for FedScoop. He was previously the news editor for Route Fifty and, before that, the education reporter for The Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs, California. He covered the 2012 campaign cycle as the staff writer for Campaigns & Elections magazine and Maryland’s 2012 legislative session as the politics reporter for Capital News Service at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned his master’s of journalism.

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