Contractors if you aren’t using PCS in conjunction with NAICS codes, you could be missing out.

At FEDinform™ we typically use a three-pronged approach to identify new business opportunities: NAICS, PSC, and keywords. All three techniques work together to maximize our ability to find opportunities effectively. Each technique has its own pros and cons and its own specific use case. Let’s talk today about NAICS and PSC.

What does PSC stand for?

PSC stands for Product or Service Code. This is another way of codifying industry descriptions, similar to NAICS. PSC’s have been in use by the Government for a longer period of time than NAICS, are applied to 100% of the contracts the Government issues, and are more specific than NAICS codes. The reason NAICS gets so much attention is because the Small Business Administration ties small business size standards to that code. However, the NAICS code is generally a pretty poor descriptor of the work that is being done on a contract.

The reason is the difference between how NAICS and PSC codes are applied:

  • The NAICS represents the primary purpose of a requirement.
  • The PSC represents the actual work that is being done.

Oftentimes when doing an opportunity search by NAICS, we’ll find all kinds of opportunities that do not actually fit our capability areas, and it’s usually because of how these codes are applied.

A very frequent example is for a requirement to build a wireless network that allows occupants of a building to connect to the Internet:

The primary purpose of the requirement might be codified as “facilities support services” (NAICS 561210) because the purpose is for services to support operations within facilities. The IT services firm that focuses on searching opportunities by IT-services NAICS like 541511, 541512, etc. would miss this opportunity that fit their capability area.

That’s why we like to search by PSC—in this hypothetical instance, let’s say the PSC the Government assigned was DG01 – IT And Telecom – Network Support Services (Labor). This would be appropriate because this is representative of the work that’s actually being performed. For us on the industry side, if we had our searches set up to capture work in relevant PSC’s, we’d find this opportunity easily.

Because PSC’s get so little attention, sometimes vendors think they are “new” or “not always used” but that is not the case. The Government has been using PSC to codify requirements long before they started using NAICS, and today BOTH NAICS and PSC are assigned to the contracts that the Government awards. Finally, note in our hypothetical instance how much more detailed / specific / granular PSCs are at describing the work that’s being done – in light of that, our question is, why wouldn’t a vendor use PSC in their searches to find new opportunities??

Take the mystery out of using FPDS data. Contact Us. Or schedule a no cost consultation to see how FEDinform can help you find and win new business with the federal government.