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When Researching Opportunities, Do You Rely on NAICS or PSC Codes?

GTThere are two primary classification systems used by civilian, defense and intelligence agencies to describe procurements. The two systems serve different purposes for the Government, and likewise for Industry, too.

One of the classifications has been around since I entered government contracting in the late eighties while the other came along nearly 10 years later. When you visit most balanced naics-psc 36553291_lorganizations providing assistance with government contracting (Government and Industry) the conversations typically reference only one of the systems.

For industry, it’s important to understand the multiple functions of these classifications, especially the more well-known NAICS Codes. What they mean on your SAM profile and marketing materials is not what they mean when assigned to a procurement. Additionally, not having PSC Codes on your profiles and as criteria for identifying upcoming and previous purchases can result in too much and not enough information, concurrently. In a given fiscal year, there are often twice as many PSC Codes referenced in purchases as there are NAICS Codes. This is as it should be since there are more PSC Codes than NAICS Codes, and again, they serve a different purpose.

For example.

I leveraged FPDS-NG to grab a snapshot of FY2015 obligations based on the top 5 PSC Codes referenced. I also captured the NAICS Codes associated with those PSC Codes. Here’s a stat. More than 2300 PSC Codes were referenced in FY15 in $437 billion in obligations reported to FPDS-NG. The top 5 PSC Codes accounted for nearly 20% of that spend. Here they are:

More than 1200 NAICS Codes were referenced in FY15 and nearly half of that number represents the number of NAICS Codes associated with these PSC Codes. Here they are:

In all, 61 contracting departments processed contract actions that resulted in the obligations reported. Small business concerns captured about 17% of this spend.

One last interesting point to make in this day an age of many citing and believing multiple-award contract vehicles account for the major spend is the fact 74% of this spend was attributed to single-award contract vehicles and standalone contracts.

So when it comes to how you market and market research, do you NAICS, PSC or both?


Guy Timberlake, The Chief Visionary (bio)

“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”

About Editor-in-Chief Visionary

Go-To-Guy Timberlake is the Editor-in-Chief Visionary of GovConChannel and oversees the creation and curation of relevant and timely 'News And Information That Matters To Small Government Contractors.'


3 thoughts on “When Researching Opportunities, Do You Rely on NAICS or PSC Codes?

  1. Great topic, Guy. As you’re alluding too, companies must combine NAICS codes with PSC codes when they search for opportunities, or else they are going waste a tremendous amount of time reading through opportunities that are totally irrelevant to them. Quick example – Say a company is running an architectural engineering services company and are searching for only opportunities under NAICS code 541330 – Engineering Services. That company is going to end up wasting several hours sifting through thousands of IT Engineering opportunities. To avoid this death spiral, they simply need to add an additional filter restricting their search results to show only opportunities where the PSC codes start with C (Architect/Engineer Services).


    Posted by Joey O'Donnell | March 17, 2016, 10:55


  1. Pingback: 15 Reasons (and Some Tactics!) to Get ‘Simplified’ GovCon Dollars! | GovConChannel - March 14, 2016

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