Do contractor ID numbers taint transparency?
Groups recommend government-owned identifier instead By Alice LipowiczSep 17, 2009 As states near a deadline for their first set of comprehensive reports on economic stimulus spending, a debate is brewing over the government’s reliance on a private-sector coding system used to identify the beneficiaries of federal largess. Under federal rules, stimulus aid recipients — including public agencies, nonprofit organizations and private contractors — must identify themselves in the reports by their Data Universal Numbering System identifiers. Dun and Bradstreet owns and operates the DUNS service. In accordance with the Obama administration’s push for greater transparency, advocacy groups are reviving long-standing questions about the suitability of corporate ownership of such a critical government database and pointing out ways in which they claim its proprietary nature limits public and agency access to information. For example, USAspending.gov uses DUNS numbers to identify contractors. But