How the migration to SAM affects you
As anyone who works with grants knows, the federal government requires a lot of information to identify the individual agency they are working with. The acronyms DUNS, EIN, and CCR should be fairly familiar to you if you have ever filled out a federal grant application. These numbers are assigned to each agency as unique identifiers.
Beginning with the current federal funding cycle, the government has switched from multiple user systems to one single, consolidated process and data system referred to as SAM — System for Award Management. It is used by everyone doing business with the federal government and was developed to simplify and streamline interactions between the two. It’s mostly a behind-the-scenes activity that has enabled the government to use a single system instead of several unconnected systems.
SAM doesn’t just apply to grants but is a requirement of any entity that does business with the government, including prime contractors, those receiving loans, and corporations as well as local governments. So, as your agency’s grant person, it will impact you both during the application process and during the management phase as well.
While this has simplified things for the government, it may have caused some confusion, too.
The SAM identifier takes the place of the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), the Federal Agency Registration and the Excluded Parties List System. In essence, one SAM equals one — and only one — user.
By now you should have migrated from CCR to the new system. This was not done automatically but required someone to go into the SAM system to create the new account.
If your police agency is a stand-alone entity with its own unique CCR or DUNS or Tax ID, your agency will take care of creating the SAM account. Most likely, this would be done by your Budget or Administrative divisions. Get in touch with them and find out if they have already submitted the SAM registration.
However, if your police agency is a department within a municipal government (city or county, etc.), you probably use the same identifying numbers that are assigned to the city. Therefore, this migration to SAM will have to be taken care of by that entity.
Here’s where you may run into problems. Whoever creates the SAM account is automatically designated as the Entity Administrator (EA). This is part of the consolidation aspect of the program, which is the main idea behind it. This person is the main contact with SAM and controls everything done in it.
If you are used to using your city’s DUNS and other numbers but using your police department’s contact and address information for your grant applications, you won’t be able to do that anymore. SAM and grants.gov are independent, but all information in an application in grants.gov must match whatever is in SAM. If it doesn’t match, you can’t submit. The same goes for submitting reports and requests for reimbursement.
The Entity Administrator has to “invite” other users to be included in the system. The EA has to select the activities you will be able to do in SAM, so you need to get in contact with your EA to set this up so that it meets your needs. Again, this is probably a function of the Budget or Administrative departments.
Since SAM has been required for the 2013 grant cycle, there may already be processes in place locally to address this. Just make sure you have coordinated this with the EA so you will be able to submit and manage grants for your agency.
SAM has to be updated annually to remain active. An email is sent to the Entity Administrator prior to the end date as a reminder. If it lapses, registration needs to be redone before you can access the system. This could impact you and your grants, so maintain contact with your Entity Administrator to ensure your SAM is active and current. You certainly don’t want to try to submit an application or request reimbursement and find out your account is no longer active.
Registration in SAM is provided free of charge, but you may be contacted by a third party offering to assist you for cost. That’s probably not necessary.