Early in 2015 the Treasury and OMB opted to continue using the proprietary DUNS Number for identifying organizations that contract with federal government agencies – at least for the time being. It turns out this period was pretty short. The DUNS Number is no longer mandatory.
Why does this matter? It's not that proprietary data standards are bad in themselves... Oh, all right – yes they are. If an organization gets to charge you money for something that's forced on you then that's bad business and it's not democratic. DUNS officially stands for Data Universal Numbering System. But it's owned by Dun & Bradstreet. The DUNS Number is Dun's number.
To be crystal clear: Until now, it was illegal for government contractors not to use the DUNS Number. And to use the DUNS Number, they had to pay Dun & Bradstreet.
So now NASA, the General Services Administration, and the Department of Defense are deleting all references to the DUNS Number from the Federal Acquisition Regulation. It's a big step forward. And it establishes a very important principle: No data standard whose use is mandated by law should be owned by a commercial entity. Data Transparency Coalition