Turco: SAM deployment likely to be delayed; GSA might replace DUNS
A General Services Administration effort to consolidate federal online acquisition systems will likely receive no development money during the current fiscal year, causing GSA officials to anticipate a delay in the project.
However, GSA officials are going forward with a planned sources sought notice, to be released shortly, seeking private sector input on the viability of replacing mandatory federal vendor acquirement of a DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet with a government-generated unique identifier.
If the government does replace DUNS with its own unique identifier system for vendors, the transition would likely be tied to the third phase of the online acquisition system consolidation effort, said Kathleen Turco, head of GSA's office of governmentwide policy, during an Oct. 21 interview.
The integration effort seeks to consolidate nine currently separate systems into one, to be known as the System for Award Management, or SAM. IBM received a $74.4 million contract in 2010 to develop the SAM architecture; part of the consolidation effort includes unifying the currently disparate databases into a single, unified one.
Because GSA received $7 million in development funds during fiscal 2011, which ended on Sept. 30, it will be able to proceed with the first phase of the consolidation, which will tie together Central Contractor Registration, Online Representations and Certifications Application, and the Excluded Parties List System.
Starting in May, front-end users will find that they have to log onto SAM only once to access the functionalities of all three systems, Turco said.
However, a request for $15 million in development, modernization and enhancement money for the current fiscal year has bumped up against spending constraints; the Senate Appropriations Committee markup of GSA's fiscal 2012 spending bill denied the request in total. The House version would appropriate about $3 million in DME money for the project, Turco said. Congress has yet to pass any fiscal 2012 appropriations bill; the federal government is operating under a continuing resolution that expires on midnight of Nov. 18.
As a result of the House and Senate marks, Turco said GSA will likely postpone roll out of phase 2, under which GSA plans to consolidate FedBizOps, the Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System, and the Assistance Program Catalog. Originally, GSA had planned to unveil that phase in the spring of 2013; if GSA receives sufficient funding for fiscal 2013, it would be able to complete that phase in spring 2014, Turco said.
The third phase would consolidate FPDS, Wage Determinations Online and the Past Performance Information Retrieval System. The earliest phase 3 could now be completed--it was originally planned for spring 2014--is now spring 2015, Turco said.
It's in conjunction with phase 3 that GSA would likely also transition from using DUNS as a unique vendor identifier to a government-generated number, if GSA decides to do so, Turco added.
Vendors wishing to do business with the government must receive a unique identifier--in some cases, more than one, depending on the number of physical locations and legal divisions a company has--and GSA has long contracted with Dun & Bradstreet for government vendors to receive Data Universal Numbering System identifier for free.
But, the government pays Dun & Bradstreet $18 million a year for the service, making it the single most expensive element of the Integrated Acquisition Environment, the name GSA gives to 9 systems set for consolidation into SAM.
"We've had a lot of push on us from the Hill and many vendors have said to us 'Why is it only Dun and Bradstreet?'" Turco said.
However, replacing DUNS would be no easy task, she acknowledged, since DUNS are used in financial systems to pay vendors and have become deeply integrated into IAE feeder systems.