Do you need a CAGE Code? You do if you want to be awarded contracts by the federal government. CAGE stands for Commercial And Government Entity Code and is a five-digit number assigned to companies who want to compete for federal government contract awards.
The only authorized entity that can create and assign CAGE Codes is the Defense Logistics Agency or DLA. While there may be any number of third-party agencies that charge for services associated with “expedited” CAGE Codes, the DLA official site reminds that there is NO COST to be awarded a CAGE Code or to update one. Generally, these codes must be updated every five years.
Companies do not have to be domestic or USA-based to be awarded a CAGE Code. Many foreign entities do business with the United States and require such codes. CAGE Codes don’t have any underlying meaning other than to act as a unique identifier for the company assigned the CAGE Code.
CAGE codes for overseas companies have a slightly different identifier than for stateside contractors. Those located outside the United States are referred to by the NCAGE signifier, which stands for NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE).
The first step for entities toward getting a CAGE Code is to apply for a “Data Universal Number” via the Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) official site.
You need this number anytime you wish to enter into a “cooperative, contribution, interagency, partnership agreement, a federal contract, or grant agreement with NRCS and you use an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also referred to as a Tax Identification Number (TIN)”. You are also required to be registered with the System for Award Management (see below).
The rules are different for individuals (as opposed to companies)–those who contract as individuals will use their Social Security number as their Tax Identification Number and do NOT need DUNS or a SAM Code (see below).
Getting A DUNS Number
You can apply for a Data Universal Number (DUNS Number) by calling 1-866-594-2464 or by applying at the official site of Dunn & Broadstreet. This process takes a minimum of 30 business days (not calendar days) for a DUNS Number to be processed and assigned. You may be offered the ability to expedite the process to a 24 hour period–for a fee.
Once you have completed the process to obtain a DUNS number, you will need to set up an account at the SAM database, also known as the System for Award Management (SAM) database. You will need to create or maintain an account at Login.gov in order to use SAM.
All businesses must have an active registration in the SAM database before they can do business with DoD/federal government.
You can register on the SAM official site or call 1-866-606-8220. At a minimum, U.S. registrants will need the following:
- DUNS Number (see above)
- Legal Business Name, and Physical Address matching your DUNS record
- Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
- Taxpayer Name associated with your TIN
- Bank routing number
- Bank account number and account type
After registering for SAM you are ready to apply for a CAGE code via online forms at the DLA official site.
Those Who Need CAGE Codes For A Security Clearance
The procedure for getting a CAGE Code in conjunction with an application for a security clearance are different. Instead of following the steps above, you do not need to apply via SAM.
Instead, fill out DOD Form 2051, Request for Assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code. Your hiring agency may have already applied on your behalf ahead of time, or you may need to fill out the form (which must be signed by the hiring agency) and submit it via the Defense Logistics Agency.
Your business must have no duplicate registrations. Under normal conditions it takes roughly 10 business days to process the CAGE Code application and you’ll be contacted by phone or email if there is a need for additional information or verification. DLA will send your information to update SAM and make you eligible to compete for contracts or grants.
Do You Need Assistance With CAGE Code Issues?
Those who need assistance with CAGE Code issues should contact the Federal Service Desk at www.fsd.gov (866-606-8220 or 334-206-7828) for assistance in the following areas:
- Account creation
- Assigning roles to an account
- Registering business entities
- Searching for data in SAM
In cases of CAGE Code “failure”, users are directed to get help via the DLA Customer Interaction Center (24 hours a day at 877-352-2255 or commercial 269-961-7766). Once the issue is resolved you can revisit SAM and resubmit registration information.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News