What do those symbols mean in my bid match “search profile”?

July 26, 2010 by

Clients of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) enjoy the benefit of being enrolled in a powerful electronic bid match service.  Each day, this service compares each client’s interests and capabilities against a huge database of government contract opportunities. Every time there’s a match between a client’s line of work and the purchasing needs of a government agency, GTPAC sends an email alerting the client to the potential opportunity.

[Note: If you are not registered with GTPAC, be sure to read http://gtpac.org/about to learn how you can qualify to become a client.]

For those Georgia businesses who are GTPAC clients, you probably know that the bid matches we send you are based on an electronic Search Profile we’ve created for you.  You should periodically examine your Search Profile to ensure that it contains search terms that describe your current business interests.  This review and editing process is known as fine-tuning.  You can request a copy of your Search Profile from your GTPAC Procurement Counselor.  Any changes you wish to make can be submitted to your Procurement Counselor for prompt processing.

When you review your Search Profile, you will notice that there are various symbols used in the coding.  The language and symbols used in your Search Profile are written in what’s known as “Boolean Logic.”  For example, < and > is known as a “proximity symbol.”  These greater than and less than symbols require the proximity of two words. Here’s an explanation of what that means:

If a search line says select fire<2u>hydrant, that coding is designed to look for any bid opportunity containing the words “fire” and “hydrant,” in any order, with no more than two words separating them. If  <3u> appears, then no more than three words could separate the two key words. If the coding line contains no number between the <>, like select fire<>hydrant, then only bids containing the exact phrase “fire hydrant” will be identified.

Here’s an explanation of some other coding:

* – The asterisk is a wildcard which substitutes for any additional number and combination of characters. So, select extinguish* will match on extinguish, extinguished, extinguishers, and extinguishing.

? – The question mark wildcard substitutes for one additional character. So, select hose? will match with hose and hoses.

and – “and” between two search terms requires bid opportunities to contain both terms. Therefore, select fire and hydrant will match on any bid containing the word “fire” and the word “hydrant.”

or – “or” between two search terms requires bid opportunities to include at least one of the terms. Therefore, select hydrant or extinguisher will match on any bid containing one or both of these words.

not – “not” can be combined with the “and” operator to exclude bids that contain a particular word. So, select hydrant and not fire will identify any bid containing the word “hydrant” that does not also contain the word “fire.”

Another thing to keep in mind as you review your Search Profile is that it contains NAICS codes and PSC/FSC codes.  Known as “procurement codes,” NAICS and PSC/FSC codes are the sets of numbers government agencies assign to literally every product and service that they buy.  The words that your Search Profile contains are looked for inside the numerical categories set forth by NAICS and PSC/FSC codes.  For that reason, it pays to periodically update your NAICS and PSC/FSC codes.  You can look-up your codes by clicking on the links below:

NAICS code look-up table

PSC/FSC code look-up table

You don’t need to become an expert in actually putting together your Search Profile – we’ll take care of the special programming for you.  But it’s important for GTPAC clients to understand the basics of how your Search Profile is constructed so that you can review it and make sure — with your Procurement Counselor’s help — that it’s kept up-to-date.

© 2010 Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center – All Rights Reserved.

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