DoD Vendor Database On Way

DoD Vendor Database On Way

The Defense Department is creating a central database of 300,000 contractors that will support electronic payments and could eventually become a governmentwide repository for federal contractor information.

DoD has tentatively set March 31 as the deadline for contractors to register in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database. After that date, only companies who are registered in the database will be able to bid on Defense Department contracts. Contractors have been slow to register, but DoD is sending out more than 300,000 letters to companies this month to remind them of the requirement. The department may push back the deadline if the pace of registration doesn't pick up.

The CCR database will include companies' basic information, including name, DUNS number, Tax ID number, address, major products and services and corporate status. In addition, the database will be used to collect electronic funds transfer information. Under the 1996 Debt Collection Improvement Act, agencies are required to use electronic transfers for all payments beginning Jan. 1, 1999. Proponents of the new database say it will also allow small companies around the country to be considered for contracts that in the past they have been excluded from, because the new database will make their information available to government offices nationwide.

Putting the CCR database together has not proven to be an easy task. An initial deadline, Sept. 30, 1997, was postponed because DoD decided to create seed files for the database by drawing from data in contractor databases the government already maintains. The form for gathering contractor data has also changed. Originally, it was six pages long; now it is only two pages.

DoD offices around the country have teamed up to build the database. The Defense Manpower Data Center in Monterey, Calif., merged databases, eliminated duplicate information, and validated DUNS numbers. It then populated the seed files for the CCR database with electronic funds transfer information from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Regional electronic commerce resource centers in Palestine, Texas, and Johnstown, Pa., are in charge of processing vendors' mailed-in forms. The Defense Information Systems Agency maintains a Web site for CCR online registration. The Defense Logistics Services Center in Battle Creek, Mich., is developing interfaces for the database, including an interactive telephone system that will allow DoD contracting offices to check whether a company is registered in the database.

Terrence D. Hunt, the Defense Logistics Agency's program manager for CCR, said the department is taking an incremental approach to the project.

"If we try to do too much too soon, we'll come out unsuccessful," Hunt said.

The CCR database may eventually be used governmentwide, though for now it is limited to Defense Department contractors.

"We're going out first," Hunt said. "The other agencies are saying, 'Let's see how it works.'"

The department plans to be able to use the CCR database as the central interface for numerous other systems, including the DoD Standard Procurement System, the Shared Data Warehouse, the DoD past performance database and the Electronic Document Access System.

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