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What Is the Central Contractor Registration?

By Theresa Miles
Updated Feb 19, 2024
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The Central Contractor Registration (CCR) system is the authorized vendor database of the US government. It is a web-based application that manages the credentialing process for any individual or business that wants to supply goods or services to any federal government agency. Vendors access the database by visiting the official CCR website where they create login credentials and set up an account.

In 1994, the US Congress passed the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act. The goal of the law was to simplify the government procurement process, or the process by which private entities can sell goods and services to the federal government. Prior to the enactment of the law, the government procurement process was complicated and functionally inaccessible to small businesses. With the passage of this law, the government moved toward a single point-of-service credentialing system over the course of years, effectively leveling the playing field for contractors big and small.

The US government completed the transition to the single point-of-service system in the early 2000s. That system, the Central Contractor Registration database, is now the single way a vendor can become qualified to contract with the federal government. The CCR system is secure, proprietary and accessible to everyone via an Internet connection and a browser from the CCR website. It allows any entity that wants to contract with any federal agency to register in the system, create login credentials and generate an account that the vendor manages over the course of his interaction with the government.

Vendors complete a web form in the Central Contractor Registration system that collects the basic business information the government needs to vet credentials and conflicts. The vendor only has to provide this information once and in one place, simplifying the procedure significantly. All federal government agencies have access to the Central Contractor Registration system, so if a vendor wants to apply for contracts across multiple agencies, he does not need to complete multiple applications.

The other major benefit to using the Central Contractor Registration system is the use of managed accounts in a database rather than a static form submission process. Vendors have continuing access to their information in the system, and can update it at any time. This self-managed process decreases the paperwork and data entry burden on the government and increases accuracy and efficiency in the procurement process. Although vendors have access to their accounts at any time, they are required to officially renew their registration annually to remain on active status.

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Discussion Comments
By matthewc23 — On Mar 12, 2012

@jcraig - I have my business listed in the CCR database. I live in Virginia, so there are always a lot of agencies from Washington that are needing various services.

I don't know exactly who runs the branch. Obviously, most of it is handled online, so they don't need much of a work staff, but I seem to remember reading something about the Department of Defense, which would make sense. Someone already mentioned that they probably do the most business through the website.

One of the neat things is that they actually have a few programs in place to help small businesses succeed. It used to be that small businesses were separated from other companies, but that isn't the case anymore.

I don't think there is much corruption happening. I've definitely not got any connections to anyone in the government, and I have gotten business from a few agencies. These branches are usually running on tight budgets anyway, so it is in their best interest to pick the best value.

By jcraig — On Mar 11, 2012

@JimmyT - Surely there is some sort of database, since the government has to outline how all of the money is spent. I wouldn't know how to access it, though. You mentioned the Department of Defense, but I have heard of it happening in other departments, too, like you would expect. I think with the CCR system, though, it is at least a little more fair. I could image shady business being a lot more common in the older process before where bids had to be submitted in paper form.

Does anyone have any idea what department runs the CCR, or is it just an independent part of the Executive Branch? Has anyone ever interacted with the CCR website and registered their business to contract with the government? I'd be interested to hear more about it from someone who has been a part of it.

By JimmyT — On Mar 11, 2012

@cardsfan27 - I was wondering some of the same things, especially about how the different agencies choose the service providers. In the case of actual services where a person needs to be present, it seems like they would have to make selections from their general region. Obviously, an agency with offices in New York wouldn't be hiring someone from Texas to do a regularly offered service. Also, do the vendors have to list the prices for their services, or do they just register, and the agency works out a deal later?

I would also assume that the government has some sort of open system where citizens can look at the contracts that have been awarded, right? I know there always seem to be cases popping up of agencies awarding contracts to businesses that are directly associated with someone in that agency. I mostly hear stories about the Department of Defense, but that is probably because they are spending the most money.

By cardsfan27 — On Mar 10, 2012

Interesting. I never even realized that something existed like this. I was just under the assumption that the government either had regular people that they contracted with or else they solicited ads for certain needs.

I think it is nice that they have set up a central system to manage all of the information. Besides allowing small businesses to get involved, like the article mentions, a system like this would also cut down on paperwork and clerical costs, which is good news for taxpayers.

What I am curious about is what exactly the system lists. When a vendor puts in the company's information, do they list all of the products that they can offer, or do they just select general categories of services? I guess in terms of services it wouldn't be that hard, but a factory that specializes in lots of individual products might have a hard time listing them all. Also, how do they make the selection about what vendors to use?

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