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Grant contracting: The transition from the CCR to SAM

The new System for Award Management (SAM) is designed to streamline the federal grant award and contracting process

If you have applied for a federal grant, you should be aware that you must have registered with the Central Contactor Registry (CCR) and have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS). That system is about to change - if the migration process can get smoothed out.  The current process was to have taken place in February 2012 and is now on hold until the end of July 2012. 

The current federal contracting system is separated into nine different departmental processes. The new System for Award Management (SAM) is designed to funnel all of these departments into one data system and streamline the federal contracting process, including the grant award and contracting process.

The migration also includes Federal Business Operations (FedBizOps), Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPRS), Electronic Subcontracting Report System (ESRS), Online Representations and Certifications Applications (ORC), Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS Next Generation), EPLS, Wage Determination OnLine and the Catalog of Federal Assistance (CFDA). The feds are hoping to create efficiencies through integration and consolidation.

According to the General Services Administration, SAM’s first phase will include the capabilities of Central Contractor Registration (CCR)/Federal Agency Registration (FedReg), Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA), and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS).

In preparation for the launch, GSA conducted extensive testing internally and in coordination with federal agencies using the data from these systems in their own contracting, grants, finance and other departments. The testing was very valuable and will focus the efforts of the next 60 days.

SAM will reduce the burden on those seeking to do business with the government. Vendors will be able to log into one system to manage their entity information in one record, with one expiration date and through one streamlined business process. Federal agencies will be able to look in one place for entity pre-award information. Everyone will have fewer passwords to remember and see the benefits of data reuse as information is entered into SAM once and reused throughout the system.

At the end of July 2012, the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) system is going away. CCR, along with Federal Agency Registration (FedReg), the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA), and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS), will be migrated into the new System for Award Management, or SAM.

For those of you familiar with this effort, you know it will reduce the number of passwords you need to remember, reduce the number of systems you need to enter and interact with and reduce data redundancy by sharing the data across the award life cycle.

IBM designed this new system. The federal government will complete the development of each phase of the transition and enhancements to SAM to increase competition and opportunities for small and innovative businesses. It is designed to make the grant contracting system more user-friendly.

The grant process will require one login, which provides access to all information needed to make an award determination reducing the time to complete an award.  For the grant process, the system is to be capable of posting solicitation and award data and maintaining government-wide contract awards data. It will also manage the CFDA catalog data.

So, what should you do to make this transition work for your department? First, you will need to do nothing if you have a current CCR and DUNS in the system. Your data will be migrated (hopefully) into SAM. When it is time to complete your annual update you will go to SAM.gov, which is currently offline. When SAM is ready, you will simply create a user account by following the directions on the website. Then, follow site instructions to validate and update your information migrated over from the CCR.

Until SAM.gov and its system is fully operational, business as usual will continue under the CCR/FedReg/ORCA/EPLS until the end of July. Should you have any current difficulties with the CCR/DUNS/SAM systems, you may direct any questions to AskSAM@gsa.gov.

While waiting, you may want to grab a tall lemonade and curl up in the shade with your favorite grant solicitation.

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