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NAICS Code Selection: Purchasing Data/Information

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Looking for any insight into choosing the correct NAICS code for purchasing data/information and accessing it electronically (i.e. through a downloadable link). Specifically, my customer wants to purchase datasets, which are then used in his analysis and modeling efforts. I believe the two (2) applicable NAICS codes could be 518210 - Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services - and 511210 - Software Publishers. NAICS code 518210 is described as "providing access to software for clients from a central host site," among other services. NAICS code 511210 services namely "carry out operations necessary for producing and distributing computer software, such as designing, providing documentation, assisting in installation, and providing support services to software purchasers."

The significance of choosing between the two NAICS codes is that each has a different small business size standard, so it would be great to know which code is more "applicable," if possible. After looking on FBO, there does not seem to be a consistent application of one or the other.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you!

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I see another Forum grand debate in the making.   You are in the dilemma of "best describes" and while I have nothing specific to help you solve it I do offer the following GAO report.  Helpful?  Probably not, but the perspective might push you into just making a decision and going with it.

https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/688742.pdf

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30 minutes ago, C Culham said:

I see another Forum grand debate in the making.   You are in the dilemma of "best describes" and while I have nothing specific to help you solve it I do offer the following GAO report.  Helpful?  Probably not, but the perspective might push you into just making a decision and going with it.

https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/688742.pdf

C Culham - thank you for providing the GAO report; it is definitely enlightening on the overall topic of NAICS code selection.

My specific situation of 511210 vs. 518210 may come down to how the data is actually provided to the customer. If the data is distributed through physical media (e.g. CD, DVD, etc.) or through secure file transfer / electronically, then 511210 will probably prevail. If the data is retrieved from a "hosting site," then 518210 will probably prevail. Just curious if anyone else has had this dilemma and if they can share their experience.

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3 hours ago, 2FARGone said:

Looking for any insight into choosing the correct NAICS code for purchasing data/information and accessing it electronically (i.e. through a downloadable link). Specifically, my customer wants to purchase datasets, which are then used in his analysis and modeling efforts. I believe the two (2) applicable NAICS codes could be 518210 - Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services - and 511210 - Software Publishers. NAICS code 518210 is described as "providing access to software for clients from a central host site," among other services. NAICS code 511210 services namely "carry out operations necessary for producing and distributing computer software, such as designing, providing documentation, assisting in installation, and providing support services to software purchasers."

The significance of choosing between the two NAICS codes is that each has a different small business size standard, so it would be great to know which code is more "applicable," if possible. After looking on FBO, there does not seem to be a consistent application of one or the other.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you!

The sale of data and access to data is not something that is usually classified 'by industry.'  In literally any industry you can think of, someone is collecting and then selling data about that industry.  Here is some data you can buy: What kids eat for breakfast in 2007, how many cars are in the parking lot at Target on Sundays, satellite maps of northern Kazakhstan, Getty images in HD, the current location & destination of cargo ships carrying phosphorus, what's trending on Twitter at this exact instant (this last one, I've been told, is shockingly expensive since the main buyers are loaded hedge funds feeding their machines) - this is all data you can purchase and access electronically.  No common NAICS code. Its rather the content of the data that drives the determination.

That said - here is my guidance

Identify some sources of two types.   Acquisition vehicles that can be used for the procurement.  Companies that do this type of data business.

1) Most acquisition vehicles (like the FSS, GWACs, large government-wide IDCs) tell you what NAICS code you will be using - and that is your answer.

2) Companies sell what you want to buy - look up what NAICS codes they use (like on sam.gov).  This may not be that helpful though, because many companies have lots and lots of NAICS codes to cover all their bases, especially the 51 series.  If you really want to get down into the weeds, contact these sources and ask them exactly this question.  They will give you an answer.  This is time consuming, but my be helpful if you have to justify your decision.

Alternate: If the PSC is known, use the PSC-NAICS crosswalk.  Which will probably identify 518210 BTW.

 

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7 hours ago, 2FARGone said:

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you!

Quote

As one might expect, an agency’s choice of NAICS code is often more art than science, and reasonable minds may disagree what the best NAICS code may be for a given procurement.  Because different NAICS codes may correspond to different size standards, the agency’s code choice in a set-aside procurement may result in a particular firm being eligible or ineligible to compete for award.  Exclusion from a competition is a powerful incentive for firms to challenge an unfavorable NAICS code selection.

Unlike normal pre-award solicitation challenges, a challenge to a NAICS code is not a bid protest that can be filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Court of Federal Claims, or the procuring agency.  Instead, an aggrieved potential offeror must file a NAICS Appeal with the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA), within 10 calendar days after issuance of the solicitation containing the objectionable NAICS code.  See 13 C.F.R. § 121.1103.  OHA does not require the agency’s selected NAICS code to be perfect.  Rather, an appellant has the burden of proving that the chosen code is based upon a clear error of fact or law and does not best describe the principal purpose of the product or service being acquired.  If OHA issues an adverse decision, a party with standing may then appeal OHA’s decision to the Court of Federal Claims.

http://govcon.mofo.com/acquisition-regulations/naics-code-appeals-one-size-does-not-fit-all/

Quote

A newly released Government Accountability Office report provides a rare peek behind the curtain of how contracting officers assign North American Industry Classification System codes.

Contracting officers are required by 13 C.F.R. § 121.402(b) to designate the NAICS code that “best describes” the work to be performed. It sounds simple enough, but the report reveals that it can be tricky.

The contracting officers interviewed by GAO as part of its December 2017 Report to the Committee on Small Business, House of Representatives said as much, telling GAO that assigning a NAICS can be challenging, especially “when one or more codes could apply to a contract.”

http://smallgovconhttp://smallgovcon.com/naics-code-appeals/gao-reports-on-how-contracting-officers-select-naics-codes/

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1 hour ago, General.Zhukov said:

The sale of data and access to data is not something that is usually classified 'by industry.'  In literally any industry you can think of, someone is collecting and then selling data about that industry.  Here is some data you can buy: What kids eat for breakfast in 2007, how many cars are in the parking lot at Target on Sundays, satellite maps of northern Kazakhstan, Getty images in HD, the current location & destination of cargo ships carrying phosphorus, what's trending on Twitter at this exact instant (this last one, I've been told, is shockingly expensive since the main buyers are loaded hedge funds feeding their machines) - this is all data you can purchase and access electronically.  No common NAICS code. Its rather the content of the data that drives the determination.

That said - here is my guidance

Identify some sources of two types.   Acquisition vehicles that can be used for the procurement.  Companies that do this type of data business.

1) Most acquisition vehicles (like the FSS, GWACs, large government-wide IDCs) tell you what NAICS code you will be using - and that is your answer.

2) Companies sell what you want to buy - look up what NAICS codes they use (like on sam.gov).  This may not be that helpful though, because many companies have lots and lots of NAICS codes to cover all their bases, especially the 51 series.  If you really want to get down into the weeds, contact these sources and ask them exactly this question.  They will give you an answer.  This is time consuming, but my be helpful if you have to justify your decision.

Alternate: If the PSC is known, use the PSC-NAICS crosswalk.  Which will probably identify 518210 BTW.

 

Hi General Z - thank you for the detailed insight. I do not agree fully with your first paragraph. I agree we can purchase data in a vast amount of subject areas, such as what you listed, but a company compiling and providing the data on a certain subject is different than the subject itself. In my case, we are looking to purchase specialized real estate data. The NAICS industry/sector related to real estate is 53 - Real Estate and Rental and Leasing - and more specifically 531. There is no NAICS code within that industry/sector that applies to vendors providing and compiling data related to that industry/sector (including NAICS code 531390 - Other Activities Related to Real Estate).

The real estate data we are looking to purchase is only available on the commercial market (FAR Part 12 in conjunction with either Part 13 or Part 15). Just for reference, I reviewed GSA's FSS SIN-NAICS Crosswalk document to see how they applied the 511210 and 518210 NAICS codes. 518210 applied to SIN 132-40 (Cloud Computing Services), 132-41 (Earth Observation Solutions), and 132-52 (Electronic Commerce and Subscription Services). 511210 applied to SIN 132-32 (Term Software License), 132-33 (Perpetual Software License), 132-34 (Maintenance of Software as a Service), 132-41 (Earth Observation Solutions), and 132-56 (Health Information Technology Services).

Determining the PSC as a 70 or D category is another process. PSC 7030 - IT Software - states software can be "a collection of data in a form capable of being processed and operated on a computer" and crosswalks with NAICS code 511210. That PSC definition seems pretty clear cut to me and applicable to what we want to purchase (a collection of data), but then the NAICS definition of 511210 does not seem as clear cut for this.

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1 hour ago, napolik said:

Napolik - thank you and this is also great information. C Culham had sent over the GAO report, as well. I do not think my choice of NAICS ultimately will be scrutinized or protested in this case, but it is just a matter of principle to find what best aligns and navigating the somewhat nebulous language associated with these NAICS codes.

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Thank you all again for your insights. I ended up calling the Census Bureau's Dr. NAICS hotline and described the industry/purchase (data being provided via internet login and other electronic mediums like Excel spreadsheets and PDF reports). The Census Bureau representative advised that 519130 - Internet Publishing and Broadcasting and Web Search Portals - was most applicable. My search of FBO has shown that 519130 is a frequently used NAICS code to categorize the purchase of datasets (still along with 511210 and 518210), so I am proceeding with this NAICS code.

This situation is definitely demonstrative of the "contracting is an art, not a science" argument. I do not see an extreme risk with me choosing the 519130 NAICS code versus the others, but the lack of consistency is just interesting.

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