An Overview of SAM

The System for Award Management (SAM.gov) is an official website of the U.S. federal government to register to do business with the government. Doing business with the government includes being a recipient of federal grants and cooperative agreements. 

An organization must successfully register as an entity in SAM to apply for and receive local, state, or federal government grants. You must also renew the entity registration in SAM on an annual basis. Note that simply establishing a SAM account is not a full entity registration.

There is no cost to register an entity in SAM.

SAM.gov homepage (December 2021)

Once registered, the entity will be assigned a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) in SAM. A UEI is the federal government’s primary means of identifying entities for federal awards. Examples of entities are prime contractors, organizations and individuals applying for assistance awards, sole proprietors, corporations, and other government entities that wish to do business with the U.S. federal government. 

In addition to entity registration, the site can be used to search for other entities such as a prospective subawardee or a contractor to determine if the entity is also registered in SAM and is not suspended, debarred, or excluded from doing business with the government. 

One can also find assistance listings, wage determinations, contract opportunities and contract data reports on the site.

Registering an entity in SAM

Note that the instructions that follow are based on the registration process as of December 2021. Because SAM is evolving as part of a governmentwide Integrated Award Environment, the process may change slightly.

Before registering an entity in SAM, a taxpayer identification number (TIN) must be requested from IRS.gov. 

Upon receipt of the TIN, requesting a DUNS number is currently the next step but this step will be eliminated in April 2022.

Requesting a DUNS number is a free service.

Additional information needed to begin the entity registration process include the organization’s financial and banking information and a CAGE code or NCAGE code if one has already been assigned. If not, a CAGE code may be assigned after the entity is successfully registered in SAM.

Grants.gov timeline for Organization DUNS to UEI
Source: Grants.gov

Then there’s Login.gov

The next step is to create an account in Login.gov. Login.gov is a secure, shared service used by multiple federal agencies so it is possible to sign into multiple government websites (including SAM.gov) with one email address and password.

A login.gov account is currently required to register an entity in SAM.

More on a new entity registration

Per SAM.gov, some individuals will be required to provide a notarized letter affirming they represent the entity. In this case, a notarized letter must be mailed to the address provided. If this is required, notification of the requirement will be given during the registration process. Based on our experience, this extends the process by 1-2 weeks.

It is recommended that organizations begin SAM registration early in the grant application process or perhaps before they begin searching for government grant funding.

According to SAM.gov, it will take up to 10 business days after submission for the entity to be active in SAM and another 24 hours for the entity’s information to be available in other government systems. 

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Renew the entity registration

Based on the current process, the entity’s primary contact will receive an official expiration notice via email from SAM 60 days before the entity’s registration expires. 

To renew the entity, follow the instructions to find the entity you wish to renew, update any information as needed, and then submit the renewal at the end of the process. 

Beware of scams

Once the entity is active in SAM, there are companies that will market SAM registration renewal services. Many have used scare tactics to cause alarm and compel you to renew the entity using their services.  Entity renewal is a free and simple process that you or someone on your team can complete.