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NAICS Codes 101

My recommendation today is to focus on what you’re good at. Rocket science, right? Sticking to your core competencies is Business 101 advice. The difference with government procurement is be an expert in your NAICS code.

The North American Industry Classification System is the way Contract Officers reference each solicitation they work on. This is important when you search and refine both your description of your own company (, SBA GLS, etc) but also how you search for efforts you want to bid on.

Semantics…word choice…matters. Big time!! For example, a Contract Officer has a requirement for Computer Services. That requirement could be correctly classified as 541513 or 541519. Or about 5 or 6 other NAICS codes. Don’t even get started if the solicitation requirement has more than one item one it. Contract Officers pick the NAICS that makes the most sense to them. What is the largest portion of equipment/service on the contract? That is likely what they will use. They must select a single NAICS for each effort.

So there in lies the problem. Do you search for 541513 or 541519? What if you miss it or the thousand other efforts classified differently? The answer is to broaden your understanding and appreciation for your line of work. Think about what you do like a Contract Officer who doesn’t know your work. What would they call you work? What would a thousand Contract Officers call it? You will likely have to expand your list of NAICS you research. Just like any search engine, if you get too many responses then you have time to research, then reduce your list of NAICS. Too few, widen your search.

Here’s another hint, the 6-digit NAICS are progressively more refined. For example, 62 is for all Healthcare and Social Assistance. 622 is for Hospitals. 6222 is for Psychiatric Hospitals. You see the pattern? The more digits, the more refined and specific the identification. You don’t have to list all the 6-digit codes in a category. Try searching at a higher level (ie 62, 622, 6222) to broaden your searches.

Here is one site helpful to do some research. Don’t miss an opportunity that might be a perfect fit because you call your work something different than a Contract Officer might.

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