First published January 24, 2017

What exactly is the function of a NAICS Code? Not sure? That's interesting since so many on the industry side of government contracting have developed a significant dependency on it. It's true. Some companies use it as the sole basis for identifying new opportunities. Some incorporate other factors, like keywords, for example. Then there is the small segment ofcan of worms saying cartoon the government contracting community that blends NAICS Codes and Product Service Codes. Hopefully that segment continues to grow.

Product Service Code? What's that? Looks like I opened up that can of worms again.

Actually, it wasn't me for once. The other day someone did a search that landed them on the, our news site for small government contractors. The search phrase they entered asked the question 'What is the NAICS for PSC Code 8145?" Well, if the answer being sought was based on activity occurring in FY2016, then the answer is there are:

182 NAICS Codes associated with PSC Code 8145 that represents
'Specialized Shipping and Storage Containers'
with net obligations of $101M from 57 contracting agencies (e.g., TSA vs DHS).

In fact, this PSC Code was referenced in conjunction with NAICS Codes from these 15 different Industry Sectors:11224434_l question

  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (11)
  • Utilities (22)
  • Construction (23)
  • Manufacturing (31-33)
  • Wholesale Trade (42)
  • Retail Trade (44-45)
  • Transportation and Warehousing (48-49)
  • Information (51)
  • Finance and Insurance (52)
  • Real Estate, Rental and leasing (53)
  • Professional Scientific and Technical Services (54)
  • Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services (56)
  • Arts, Entertainment and Recreation (71)
  • Other Services (except Public Administration) (81)
  • and Public Administration (92)

If you're amazed by this don't be. This simply depicts the relationship between NAICS Codes and PSC Codes most don't know exists.

Nearly half of the spend, $50M, occurred with Defense Logistics Agency with Navy in second place issuing $21M. Other notable agencies were State Department ($6M), U.S. Mint ($8M), Air Force ($6M) and the Army ($8M). I'm pretty sure I know who executed that search so all of the extra info is for you guys! Go get 'em!

13106977_ml-invisible-manOkay, back to business.

If you sell a product that fits under this PSC Code, which NAICS Codes from the 15 groups above does your company have on its SAM profile and marketing materials? Regardless of your response, I'll bet you have no (Zip! Zilch! Nada!) PSC Codes listed on your SAM profile, which still remains the norm for many companies, large and small. Here's the problem as I see it. If a buyer comes looking for you in SAM based on 'what they want to buy' and PSC Codes are not something included on your profile, there's a good chance you won't be seen. Why? PSC Codes relate to what is being purchased whereas NAICS Codes are intended to describe how purchased products and services will be used. No kidding. It doesn't happen that way all of the time, but agencies are trying to get better in how they leverage their classifications, because it will help them more clearly see what is being purchased, how it's being purchased, and a lot more.

So if PSC Codes are 'what's being purchased' that means extracting information about how it's being purchased should be pretty easy, right? Yep!


With a few keystrokes, you can find out that 60% of the obligations were to standalone contracts versus IDVs and that GSA contract vehicles of any type account for less than $5M of the overall 'delivery order' obligations.


You can also get a snapshot of the top vendors, the companies you're either going to partner with or ice, it's your call!

Here's what you need to keep in mind.

Product Service Codes are more granular than NAICS Codes and serve a different purpose during procurement activities. You can do simple research to learn how your prospects classify what you want to sell them, and use that to determine from as high-up as the department-level or all the way down to a specific contracting or funding office, who you need to engage, how they buy and much more.

It's all about maximizing your opportunity awareness and reducing your opportunity costs by increasing your organization's ability to see and hit your targets more often.


Guy Timberlake, The Chief Visionary (bio) | @theasbcguy | @govconguy

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

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