FAQ: Can Product Service Codes Help Me Get Government Contracts?
by Yolanda Cowart | March 12, 2021
If you’ve been seeking federal government contracts for your small business, you have probably already heard of the North American Industry Classification System, also commonly referred to as NAICS codes. These codes have historically been very important in gaining visibility when competing for government contracts. But did you know that Product Service Codes are just as important? All agencies have their own vendor portal, their own certification process and their own commodity codes (although some of them overlap between agencies). This is one more reason entrepreneurs get lost in government contracting.
The federal government is now setting aside contracts for small businesses, and not just minority-owned or woman-owned ones. The federal government uses NAICS codes, but it also uses PSCs. Many entrepreneurs have not been paying attention to this. As a consultant who sees hundreds of business owners each year, I very seldom see PSCs on the Capability Statement and many businesses fail to include them in their System for Award Management (SAM) vendor registration and Small Business Dynamic Profile (SBDP).
This profile is where many prime contractors, contract administrators and buyers go to find vendors. Consequently, the more robust your profile is, the more engaging it’s going to be to a potential prime contractor looking for a subcontractor or potential buyer. Product Service Codes are just one piece of your vendor profile.
What are PSCs?
Product Service Codes (PSCs) classify products, services, and research and development items purchased by the federal government.
Some people have made a business out of identifying the right codes for people, but it’s important to note that there are free resources available for that, such as the Florida PTAC at Pinellas County. For instance, PTACs have resources to help you research commodity codes and databases that can identify some of the top competitors in your industry and which PSC Codes they perform under to assist you in improving your vendor profile.
How do PSCs help your business?
PSCs help to make your vendor profile more engaging compared to competitors who are not including them. The codes communicate to federal contractors exactly what service or product you provide with more clarity, because they are narrower than NAICS codes.
How do you identify your PSC codes?
The federal government has a manual and a website that you can go to, to look the codes up. You can access the manual at acquisition.gov. Business owners can also reach out to their local PTAC assistance center to get help with finding the right codes.
Can you have too many PSC codes?
Yes. If you are a smaller company that’s just starting out in the federal sector, you really want to focus on what you do well and the commodity codes associated with those. That first contract can make or break you, so don’t overpromise your services through your PSC codes. You don’t want to be struggling with something that you really don’t have the experience and expertise to handle.
How often should you be updating your PSCs/SAM profile?
The short answer is any time you have new information to share. Any time you’ve completed a good-sized project or commercial project, go back into your profile and update your past performance. If you received a new certification, log in and make sure that it’s visible in your profile. If you have added a line of business to your portfolio, log in and update your NAICS and PSCs. The more up-to-date your profile is, the more likely your profile is to be engaging.
Your online profiles are similar to your :90 second elevator pitch. The more robust they are the more a prime contractor, contract administrators and buyers can learn about your company. Use your profiles to communicate as much as possible the type of business you are operating. PSCs are one more way to communicate exactly what you do and gain you visibility for various contracting opportunities. Stand out from the crowd with these important codes.
Florida PTAC at Pinellas County Economic Development
Yolanda Cowart has more than 20 years of experience in public service at the local and municipal levels. Early in her career, she worked as a human resources and relations professional while serving as a liaison to the business community and advocacy groups. Her prior experience includes being a human relations specialist for Lee County Government, and an equal opportunity director for the City of Fort Lauderdale. Her background combines public service and human relations experience with hands on leadership in equal opportunity, supplier diversity, business certifications programs, organizational training and development, and managing workforce diversity principles. Cowart is the procurement specialist for the Florida PTAC at Pinellas County Economic Development. She connects businesses to resources and tools for state, local, and federal contracting opportunities. She is a Certified Procurement Professional (CPP), a Supply Chain Management Professional (SCMP), and a Certified Verification Counselor. She graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor of arts in political science and history.