Analyze and Select NAICS and PSC Codes

How to discover and analyze the classification codes used most often by the federal government

NAICS in Federal Contracting

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) NAICS is a six-digit code used to classify businesses by type of economic activity.

NAICS codes are used to classify federal contracts and contract opportunities. They are also used as the basis for the "size standards" on a contract that determine whether a contractor will be classified as a small business for a given contract.

When registering with the Federal government in SAM, businesses can indicate what NAICS codes their business falls under. While not required to win contracts, registering with these classifications can be important to help contracting officers identify potential contractor sources. For many businesses, they can also be an effective way to search for opportunities and perform market research.

PSC in Federal Contracting

Product and Service Codes (PSC) (also sometimes referred to as Federal Supply Codes) are 4 character codes used to describe products, services, and research and development (R&D) purchased by the federal government. In contrast to NAICS, which focuses on the "who" (type of business), PSC focuses on the "what" (type of product/service).

Most contracts and contract opportunities will have a PSC code assigned. As with NAICS, contractors have the opportunity to provide PSC codes in their Federal registration, which can help them be identified by government contracting officers performing marketing research.

While PSC codes typically receive less attention than NAICS codes, they are particularly important in certain markets such as with the Defense Logistics Agency where PSC codes are embedded into many product identifiers (NSNs). For some contractors in certain product or niche service areas, they can also be a more effective way to search for opportunities or perform market research as they are generally more granular than NAICS.

NAICS and PSC are rarely used at State and Local agencies. However, HigherGov tags State and Local opportunities with NAICS and PSC codes based on their descriptions so that you can search for State and Local opportunities using these codes.

How to Identify Your NAICS and PSC

HigherGov provides searches for both NAICS and PSC that can be used to find relevant codes. The NAICS and PSC pages will have additional detail on historical awards and contract opportunities that will help determine if a given code is appropriate.

If you have already identified either NAICS or PSC codes and are looking to identify the other code type, you can use the Crosswalk section on the identified code page to see the most common code paired with the other in federal contracts.

Analyze Competitors

If you have close competitors that are government contractors, another method of identifying NAICS and PSC codes is to look at what codes they have registered for (located in the registration section on the Awardee page) or what codes they have historically won contracts through, which can be easily analyzed on their Awardee page by going to the Federal Award Analysis section, selecting the Shares tab, and choosing the NAICS or PSC Category.

Other Tools

The Naval Research Laboratory developed an excellent tool at that can be used to find relevant PSC codes by entering products or services that you offer.

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