If you’re working on a proposal for a federal government grant with a deadline of Oct. 1 or later–or if you plan to apply for a federal grant any time after this date–you should be aware of an important new requirement from the Office of Management and Budget: Effective Oct. 1, anyone applying for a grant or cooperative agreement from the federal government must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number to be eligible to apply.

A DUNS number will be required for paper or online applications, whether an applicant is submitting a new proposal or a proposal to renew a current grant award. The new directive currently does not apply to non-competitive continuations of funding; however, in fiscal year 2004, it will. All school districts and other potential applicants are highly encouraged to obtain a DUNS number immediately.

The DUNS number is a unique, nine-character identification number provided by the commercial company Dun and Bradstreet. There is no charge to obtain a DUNS number. The federal government says that using the DUNS number will be a cost-effective means of identifying grantees and their business relationships. The DUNS number will be used for tracking purposes and to validate contact information such as addresses and telephone numbers.

Actually, the DUNS number already is in use to identify entities receiving federal contracts and by some agencies in their grant and cooperative agreement processes. Those of you with experience writing federal Education Department (ED) grants know that the DUNS number request has been on ED’s 424 Application for Federal Education Assistance form for some time.

The good news is that many businesses, school districts, and other entities already have a DUNS number. You just might not know that you have it. There are three ways to find out if a DUNS number exists for your district:

(1) Ask your business manager for the DUNS number.

(2) Check the DUNS number web site from Dun and Bradstreet (see link below). The number itself will not be listed; however, according to a Dun and Bradstreet customer service representative I spoke with, if your district appears in the database, then it’s likely you already have a DUNS number.

(3) Call the toll-free, dedicated DUNS number request line at (866) 705-5711 and speak with a representative. Or call (800) 333-0505 and follow the voice prompts to speak to a customer service representative.

Follow the voice prompts and enter “3” to register your district and obtain a number. A customer service representative might suggest that you buy the Credit Builder Service, but this isn’t necessary to do business with the federal government. You should be prepared to provide the following information to obtain a number:

  • Name of business or district;
  • Address of business or district;
  • Local phone number;
  • Name of business owner, CEO, or superintendent;
  • Legal structure (corporation, partnership, proprietorship, etc.);
  • Year business started;
  • Primary line of business; and
  • Total number of full-time and part-time employees.

You can also obtain a DUNS number online by going to Dun and Bradstreet’s eUpdate web site. However, you should be aware that requesting a number using this method can take up to 14 business days to process.

See these related links:

Information on the DUNS Number

Dun and Bradstreet’s eUpdate site

Deborah Ward, CFRE, is an independent grant writing consultant. She welcomes questions at (717) 295-9437 or Debor21727@aol.com.