A new service designed to make it easier for government officials to obtain credit and other important financial information about companies doing business with federal agencies will be launched today by Dun & Bradstreet Corp.

The Government Activity Report is intended to fill the information gap for federal agencies that previously had no access to consolidated data about contractors' dealings with the government. Not having that data hindered agencies' efforts to manage government loan, grant and contract programs effectively, D&B said.

"The Government Activity Report is unprecedented because it consolidates a great amount of public information from a variety of federal agencies into a single report," said John P. Kunz, president of Dun & Bradstreet Credit Services.

Joseph R. Wright Jr., deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, said officials at OMB recognized the need for the service when they learned that some agencies unwittingly were doing business with companies that recently had defaulted on obligations to other federal agencies. OMB officials considered creating a government information bank to gather and distribute the data, but ultimately decided that private industry could handle the project more efficiently.

"We felt that the best means of moving the federal government out of the dark ages in terms of its credit management programs was to involve the private-sector community," Wright said. The government provided data to both D&B and a competitor, TRW Inc., to create the service.

James P. McGinty, vice president of marketing for D&B, said "there is going to be some rock-'em, sock-'em competition" with TRW, which plans to offer the same information to government subscribers as D&B through its regular reporting service, rather than in repackaged form. TRW also is providing consolidated information on consumer transactions with a variety of government agencies.

The D&B information service is available to users by telephone, in writing and by computer. D&B officials declined to estimate how big the market for the service will be, but support from OMB undoubtedly will aid the new venture. OMB plans to issue a memo to federal agencies requiring them to use the D&B or TRW service as a pre-screening device for companies they do not know well, according to OMB Deputy Director Wright.

D&B spent between $1 million and $2 million developing the Government Activity Report during the past year. D&B officials said the report uses information that is available in the public domain, in contrast to the company's well-known data bank of more-difficult-to-obtain information on private companies.

The D&B service, which will track government contracts and other transactions that are larger than $10,000, will cost about $11 per report, except for unusually lengthy studies involving large corporations. Those could cost as much as $55 per report. When used in conjunction with the standard D&B business information report, the service will cost $5.50 per report.

"We believe we have created a communications tool that will enable a dialogue to take place between two government executives in different agencies," McGinty said.

D&B said the services would be useful to federal officials who need to determine immediately whether a loan applicant owes money to other federal agencies and to government purchasing officials who could use the service to evaluate a prospective contractor.