NAICS, PSC, FSC… The government certainly likes to assign seemingly random numbers to everything. However, these codes are how government agencies determine what your business does and if they have a need for your products or services. One digit out of place and your company could go from landscaping to event catering! So, it is extremely important that you are using the correct codes to describe what you do. So that you understand, let’s go over these different acronyms, what they mean and how you can look up the correct ones to describe your business.
NAICS stands for the North American Industry Classification System. These six digit codes are the standard used by Federal agencies and are the most common classification codes seen. In order to determine which NAICS codes you should use, visit http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/ and use the convenient keyword search in the left hand column. You may need to experiment some since not every business can easily be pigeonholed into a single NAICS category. In fact, for some newer industries, a specific NAICS code may not exist for your business, which means you’ll have to use your judgment and find codes similar to what your business does.
PSC stands for Product Service Code and is primarily used by the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) and the General Services Administration (GSA). The Product and Service Code Manual can be viewed at https://www.acquisition.gov/service_product_codes.pdf. While not the most commonly used, PSC’s can help you to narrow down what exactly your business does.
FSC is the Federal Supply Classification code and is derived from the Federal Supply Groups (FSG). These four digit codes help to classify and identify the products you sell. To find your FSC code, use the search utility at http://www.dlis.dla.mil/H2/. These are much more general than NAICS or PSC codes, but are still useful to identify what your business does.
How to Use Codes
Now that you’ve got a collection of codes, what do you do with them? First, be careful not to go overboard. You want to select enough codes to sufficiently describe what your products and services are so purchasing officers can find you when they’re looking for vendors. However, bogging yourself down with 20 NAICS, 15 PSC and 10 FSC codes may actually work against you. Be sure you are sticking to your business’s PRIMARY products and services. Consider carefully which codes really fit with your line of work. The more accurate and specific you can get, the easier it will be for buyers to understand what you can do for them and whether your business is a good fit for their contract.
Another way you can use these codes is for research. Use these codes to find bidding opportunities on FedBizOpps.gov that you could work or on the Federal Procurement Data System to find past contracts you could have worked (and the agencies that awarded them!) You can also hop on the Dynamic Small Business Search to root out your competition. Enter in your NAICS or PSC codes and see who shows up!
While many of the acronyms and codes you come across as a new contractor may be intimidating, don’t be discouraged from pursuing those contracts. They are not too difficult to get the hang of and, unless your products and services drastically change, you only need to look them up once!