National Stock Numbers

A National Stock Number (NSN) is simply the official label applied to an item of supply that is repeatedly procured, stocked, stored, issued, and used throughout the federal supply system. It is a unique item identifying series of numbers. When a NSN is assigned to an item of supply, data is assembled to describe the item. Some data elements include information such as an item name, manufacturer's part number, unit price, and physical and performance characteristics. NSN's are an essential part of the military's logistics supply chain used in managing, moving, storing, and disposing of material.

NSN's are used to identify and manage nearly every imaginable item, from aircraft parts to light bulbs. The use of NSN's facilitates the standardization of item names, supply language, characteristics and management data and aids in reducing duplicate items in the federal inventory. It also helps to standardize the military requirements for testing and evaluation of potential items of supply, as well as identifying potential duplicate items.

The NSN is officially recognized by the United States government, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and many governments around the world. Federal Agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD), use the NSN to buy and manage billions of dollars worth of supplies yearly. Currently, there are over 6 million NSN's in the federal supply system.

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