For users in the USA, the DLA Logistics Information Service, located in Battle Creek, Michigan, assigns all NSNs at the request of the military services and certain federal and civil agencies. Each NSN assigned to an item of supply is the result of a careful review process known as cataloging. Cataloging is the process whereby each item of supply is named, assigned a Federal Supply Class, described to identify all known characteristics and performance data, and ultimately assigned a NSN. This information is contained and maintained in the Federal Logistics Information System (FLIS), which is managed by the DLA Logistics Information Service, which is part of the Defence Logistics Agency (DLA). DLA Logistics Information Service is the only organization authorized to assign NSNs. Requests for NSNs are initiated whenever a non-stocked item is repeatedly ordered or when a new weapons system is being developed. Whenever a new weapon system is deployed by a military service, the service engages in an upfront review known as a provisioning process. This process identifies all potential spares to ensure weapon system support throughout the life cycle of the weapon system. This step is essential to properly provide support to the warfighter. During the provisioning process all potential spare parts are identified and requests for NSN assignment are submitted to DLA Logistics Information Service. During NSN assignment, a wide range of logistics data is assembled to describe the item. This information includes the item name, manufacturer's part number, unit price, physical and performance characteristics, shipping data, special handling, storage, shelf life, and information associated with how to dispose of the item when no longer needed in the inventory. Throughout the life of the NSN, this data is routinely updated to include new manufacturers, price changes, part number changes or other changes affecting the support, logistics data, or characteristics of the item.
Outside of the USA, certain participating member countries use the USA DLA Logistics Information Service under contract to issue and maintain their country-specific stock numbers and logistics information. Other member countries maintain their own codification bureaus that coordinate with NATO Central Command, NSPA, who in turn coordinate with the USA DLA Logistics Information Service. Examples of countries with their own codification bureau are: United Kingdom, France, Australia, Germany and Italy.
There is an increasing number of countries who are not members of NATO adopting the NATO Stock Number system for codification of supplies within their own Governments. NATO recognizes these countries by allocating a NATO Codification Bureaux (NCB) code for each new nation to use exclusively. This has the effect of enabling every country to adopt this common system and the effect has taken a wide hold. Examples of non-NATO collaborating nations include Singapore, Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Brazil.