If you want to do business with the Federal government, you must be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM). While all Federal contractors must be registered on SAM, the site is used by government officials, grant recipients, and the general public, among others. For those of you familiar with previous systems, SAM replaced the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) system, CCR's Federal Registration (FedReg) module, the Online Representations and Certification Application (ORCA), and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS).
Here’s an overview of the SAM registration process, which will hopefully help you get through the process a little easier and at a minimum provide you with some insight into the process.
Create an Account – The first step to getting your business or organization registered on SAM is to create an account on SAM.gov. To create an account, you will need to click on the button or link that says “Create an Account” on the SAM homepage.
Register an Entity – After you create and activate your SAM account, you will be able to get your company or organization registered on SAM. However, before you begin the process you will need the following information:
- DUNS Number – A DUNS number is a unique identification number that is issued by Dun and Bradstreet (D&B): http://www.dnb.com/get-a-duns-number.html. You must have a DUNS number in order to register on SAM. Additionally, the information with D&B must be correct and current as SAM will verify that information. Please note that D&B takes a while to update their information with SAM, so it’s recommended that you wait 72 hours to register on SAM after getting your DUNS number or updating your D&B information.
- TIN/EIN – You will need to provide your TIN/EIN information during the SAM registration process. Make sure this tax information, including the tax ID number and tax payer address, matches your most recently filed tax return. SAM will verify your TIN/EIN information with the IRS. If this verification process fails, you will need to address the reason for the failed verification.
- Bank Information – You will need to provide your bank account and routing numbers. You will also need to provide automated clearing house information, which is basically contact information for your bank in the event that there is a problem with an electronic funds transfer.
There are four sections in the SAM registration process for a business that wants to bid on Federal contracts. The four sections are:
- Core data – This section is basic business information, including, but not limited to your DUNS information, tax information, and financial information.
- Assertions – This section will allow you to identify your business’ industry or industries, as identified by NAICS and PSC codes. You will also identify your size by providing your revenues, as averaged over the past three years, and number of employees, as averaged over the past 12 months.
- Representations & Certifications – This section involves a series of questions related to the associated Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and Defense FAR Supplement (DFARS) provisions. The questions can be confusing because they are very legal in nature, but it is extremely important that you thoroughly read each question and use the provided links to read the full text version of each provision. Please note that misrepresentations can result in penalties.
- Points of Contact (POC) - Based on the answers you provided throughout the registration process, you will be asked to provide Mandatory POCs and Optional POCs.
After you input information, you will need to save each page by clicking the save button on the bottom of the page. The left column will show a green check mark after each page is saved. After you complete each section, you will also be asked to review and save or make changes, as needed. There is no time limit for completing your SAM registration. This means that you can save your information and then go back in later to complete it. However, based on our experience, it is easier to complete the entire registration process at one time.
How long does it take?
When you finish inputting all the requested information and submit your registration, there are a few things that will take place. First, SAM will verify your TIN/EIN information with IRS. As long as the information you input matches the information that IRS has on file, this verification should be relatively quick. Once your TIN/EIN passes verification, SAM will submit a request to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to obtain a CAGE code for your business. On occasion, DLA will send you questions via e-mail to verify that your organization does not already have a CAGE code. If you already have a CAGE code, this will not apply to you as you would have provided your CAGE code during the Core Data section of the registration process.
According to SAM, it takes roughly 7-10 business days from the time you submit your registration for it to be verified and activated. We’ve seen companies get on SAM faster than 7 days because they had all the required information. More importantly, this information was accurate and quickly verified. We’ve also seen companies take much longer to go through the SAM registration process. This was largely due to information not matching up or due to issues with either D&B, IRS, or DLA.
If you want to do business with the Federal government, you must be registered on SAM. In addition, you will need to update your SAM registration once a year, at a minimum. Although the process can be a bit of an administrative burden, being familiar with the process and having all of the required correct information can make it a bit easier.
We know that this post does not address the entire SAM registration process and you may have additional questions or need further assistance. We are very familiar with the process and are more than happy to serve as a resource. In addition, Holomua conducts SAM workshops that are more in depth than this post. Please visit our training page, http://www.holomuaconsulting.com/training.html, to get more information about upcoming workshops. Please feel free to call or e-mail us as well.