By Adam Mazmanian for FCW.com May 15, 2015
Open government activists have a long-standing dislike for the DUNS number, the proprietary business identifier used in government procurement.
The problem as they see it is that because the Dun & Bradstreet’s Data Universal Numbering System is proprietary and used by the federal government under license, data can evaporate when the government stops paying, as happened recently when the Recovery Board didn’t renew its DUNS license, and payee-level information on award recipients for $800 billion in stimulus spending disappeared.
Back in 2012, a Government Accountability Office report complained that Dun & Bradstreet had locked up the market for unique identifiers, as far as the government was concerned. “This effective monopoly results in part from government regulations and directives that require contractors, grantees, and other entities seeking to do business with the government to obtain a DUNS number,” GAO said. The General Services Administration requires the use of a DUNS number in the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and the DUNS number is also prescribed by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget.
According to GAO, the U.S. is expected to spend about $18 million on DUNS in fiscal 2015, as part of an eight-year, $154 million contract for DUNS licenses.
Now, some open government activists hope that the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act will provide a platform for the government to begin to shift away from DUNS. While it is unlikely that any shift could come through Data Act compliance alone, the expression of a policy preference for an open standard could set the stage for revisions to other federal policies. … More
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