The U.S. marketplace offers hundreds of thousands of varieties of products and services. At the highest level, state law breaks down this vast array of products and services into four broad classifications as: (a) Materials Supplies and Equipment (‘Goods’); (b) Public Works; (c) A/E Services; and (d) Services (i.e., all services other than A/E Services). U.S. industry and commerce uses various code systems to further subdivide these four broad classifications into distinct product and services classifications or categories. As an example only, two code systems generally accepted and used in industry and commerce are the Standard Industrial Classification (or SIC) and the North American Industry Classification System (or NAICS).

The code system adapted and used by the Spokane County Purchasing Department is called the NIGP Code, which is also
commonly used by many state and local governments in the U.S. The NIGP Code system is a comprehensive code/category system (taxonomy) that has various levels of implementation spanning from the 2-digit level (“Category” of 32 descriptions), to the 3-digit level (“Class” or “Series” – totaling 273 descriptions), to the 5-digit level (“Class-Item” – totaling 8,400 descriptions), to the 7-digit level (“Class-Item-Group” – totaling over 25,000 descriptions) and all the way to the 11-digit level (“Class-Item-Group-Detail” – totaling over 250,000 products and services descriptions). The Spokane County Purchasing Department uses its adapted version of the 5-digit level NIGP Code to: (i) offer subscription services at the category level via this website to alert interested parties (subject to restrictions and limitations) whenever competitive solicitations are posted or changed; and (ii) classify at the item level its competitive solicitations.

Subscription Categories: For the purposes of subscribing to notices that are sent by this website, the County has paired down the vast list of thousands of NIGP product and services codes to a list of just 28 broad codes. If the list of categories for subscribing is too long (too many codes) then vendors are likely to not subscribe to many codes. However, if the list subscription are restricted to too few (for example, just 4 categories or codes) then subscribers will receive many notices for many types of projects then they might consider this as SPAM, and are likely to unsubscribe. We think that a list of 28 categories strikes the proper balance.

Registration Categories: For the purposes of registration codes [i.e., the categories or codes used for the “vendor list(s)” under the Uniform Process; and used for “rosters” under the Small Works Roster program] the County has implemented the Class-Item level of 5-digits and then adapted and paired it down a list of approximately 6,000 product and services descriptions. The reason for so many codes is for greater precision and efficiency on the part of the County. When soliciting competitive proposals at the informal levels for goods and public works the County is required to utilize the vendor list(s) and small works roster(s). Having a greater number of codes allows for greater precision in the description of goods and services (trades) and so it allows for a more focused solicitation effort. We think that a list of approximately 6,000 categories strikes the proper balance of precision and efficiency of effort for the purposes of vendor list(s) and small works roster(s). Finally, in addition to using the vendor list(s) and small works roster(s) for the informal procurement of goods and small public works projects, the County posts these competitive solicitations on the Purchasing Department’s website in an effort to “cast the widest net” for competition.