CRM Software for Economic Development Organizations

OutreachSystems

Welcome to iSearch

Welcome to iSearch, OutreachSystems' dynamically updated, searchable database of bid opportunities from a variety of government procurement sources. Unlimited access to iSearch is available to any visitor of OutreachSystems' Web site, regardless of whether you're currently a OutreachSystems client.

Note: Because iSearch is a free service, no explicit technical support is provided for it. Although OutreachSystems staff cannot assist you with using iSearch, this help should provide you with all the information you need to successfully search for bid opportunities.

Performing Database Searches

The following sections describe how to enter search criteria in iSearch. When you are finished entering your criteria, click the Search button to execute your query.

Note: Your search results cannot include more than 2500 bid opportunities. If your criteria match on more than 2500 articles, you will be prompted to refine them until they match on fewer entries.

You can click any field in the previous graphic to jump to its corresponding topic in the help.

Data Restriction Fields

The values in the upper-frame Data Restrictions fields in your search criteria are used in combination with the lower-frame Search fields to limit the display of bid opportunities in your search results. To search for bid opportunities from all available sources, leave the Database field set to the default value, "All." 

Data Source Description
Blue Tops U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) award notices for major contracts of $5 million or more, called "blue tops" after the blue stripe that appears at the top of their printed counterparts. These award notices provide a key source for subcontracting opportunities.
FedBizOpps The U.S. federal government's Federal Business Opportunities database, which represents the single source for federal government procurement opportunities with award amounts exceeding $25,000.
Other Federal Purchases A OutreachSystems-maintained database consisting of federal government bid opportunities from a variety of sources, including agencies such as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and FedGrants.
USABID State and Local OutreachSystems' database of bid opportunities from city-, county-, and state-level government agencies. For a complete list of the resources monitored by OutreachSystems for entry into this database, go to http://www.outreachsystems.com/usabid.jsp.
All Federal Bid Opportunities All bid opportunities from the FedBizOpps and Other Federal Purchases databases.
All Foreign Trade Opportunities OutreachSystems's database of bid opportunities from a variety of foreign sources, including Canada's Internet-based electronic tendering service, MERX.

If appropriate, you can restrict your search to bid opportunities that reference a specific U.S. state by selecting that state from the State drop-down list. To search for bid opportunities in all states, leave this field set to the default value, "All."

Note: You can use Boolean search logic in the Keywords field to simultaneously search for bid opportunities in multiple states. For more information, see the Index Terms section of this help.

The Start Date and End Date fields initially default to a range beginning one week ago and ending on the current date. However, you can modify this range, if appropriate, either manually or by clicking the calendar icon associated with either field and selecting a new date from the calendar pop-up window.

Note: Since the iSearch database contains bid data posted within the last six months, your start and end dates must fall within this range.

Search Fields

The lower Search frame of the iSearch criteria screen lets you enter specific data to search for within the parameters defined by the Data Restrictions fields. Be aware that each value you specify in these fields will be searched for independently of the other criteria rather than all criteria being applied in combination. 

For example, if you entered the Boolean search string "fire and hose" in the Keywords field and entered "42" in the FSGs field as shown in the previous graphic, bid opportunities that referenced either the keywords "fire" and "hose" or Federal Supply Group (FSG) 42 would be included in your search results. To search for bid opportunities that matched both of these criteria, you would need to use advanced Boolean search logic as described in Performing Advanced Searches.

The following table lists the six available Search fields along with a description of each field's purpose and one or more applicable sample entries.

Option Description Example
Keywords Lets you search for a single keyword, set of keywords, or exact phrase in the text of each solicitation. You can use the * (asterisk) or ? (question mark) wildcards to substitute for a character or combination of characters at the end of a keyword. If needed, you can also supplement your keywords with advanced search logic, including Boolean operators, as described in Performing Advanced Searches.  hose*

hose* and not fire

Agency Lets you search for bid opportunities by requesting agency, using the same advanced search options applicable to the Keywords field. Department of Agriculture

Defense and Supply and not Richmond

Solicitation# Lets you search for bid opportunities by exact solicitation number. DTRS9248R1737
FSGs Lets you search for bid opportunities by one or more Federal Supply Groups (FSGs). You can also enter either services to search for for all service codes (A-Z) or supplies to search for all supply codes (10-99).  If entering multiple codes, separate them with spaces. Click the corresponding link to access a list of FSGs. 42

services

SICs Lets you search for bid opportunities by one or more four-digit Standard Industrial Codes (SICs). Separate multiple codes with spaces. Click the corresponding link to access a searchable version of the Standard Industrial Classification Manual 3052 3429 3569 
NAICS Lets you search for bid opportunities by one or more six-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. Separate multiple codes with spaces. Click the corresponding link to access the NAICS information area of the U.S. Census Bureau's Web site.  314999 561621

Note: FSG, SIC, and NAICS codes are not referenced in some bid opportunities since they are not used by all agencies or databases. If your code-based searches do not generate the results you expect, consider performing a refined keyword search using the advanced Boolean logic described in the following section instead.

Performing Advanced Searches

In addition to using the Keywords and Agency fields to perform simple searches for single terms, groups of terms, or phrases in the text or agency portion of each iSearch solicitation, you can use the special symbols and operators described in the following sections to perform more advanced searches.

Note: To reference any of the logic elements described here in either the Keywords or Agency field, you must select the "Boolean search" option from that field's corresponding drop-down list otherwise, your advanced search logic will not be applied.

To narrow your keyword and agency searches, iSearch lets you use the operators listed in the following table in your search strings.

Operator Description Example Example Matches On

and

"And" between two search terms requires solicitations to include both terms in order to match.

hose and fire

Any solicitation containing the word "hose" and the word "fire."
or "Or" between two search terms requires solicitations to include at least one of the terms in order to match. fire or flame or blaze Any solicitation containing one or more of these words.
<#> A numeric value enclosed in angle brackets between two terms requires solicitations to include both terms, in that order, with no more than the specified number of words between them in order to match. fire<2>alarm Any solicitation containing "fire" and "alarm," in that order, with no more than two words between them (e.g. "fire and burglar alarm")
<#u> A numeric value and letter "u" enclosed in angle brackets between two terms requires solicitations to include both terms (regardless of order) with no more than the specified number of words between them in order to match. fire<2u>alarm Any solicitation containing "fire" and "alarm," in any order, with no more than two words between them (e.g. "alarm, burglar and fire")

not

"Not" can be combined with the "and" operator to exclude solicitations that contain a particular word.

hose and not fire

Any solicitation containing the word "hose" that does not also contain the word "fire."

When entering a Boolean search string, it is important to use the proximity operator "<>" in place of a space between search terms. For example, to search for solicitations containing "fire extinguisher" excluding all those that also reference "halon gas," use the following search expression: 

    fire<>extinguisher and not halon<>gas

Wildcards

You can use the * (asterisk) wildcard character to substitute for any combination of characters at the end of a term in your keyword or agency search string, letting you search for variations of a particular word without searching for each variation separately. For example, the search term "extinguish*" would match on extinguish, extinguishing, extinguisher, and so on.

You can also use the ? (question mark) wildcard to substitute for any single character at the end of a term. For example, the search term "fold?" would match on "fold" and "folds" but not "folding" or "folder."

Note: You can use the * or ? wildcard at the end of any word in the Keywords or Agency field, even if the "Boolean search" option is not selected from the corresponding drop-down list. You cannot, however, use a wildcard in front of or in the middle of a word, even when Boolean searching is enabled.

Index Terms

Your advanced search expressions can also contain special operators called index terms, which are used to search for specific types of data such as geographic state information. You would need to use the index term: "state!" followed by the two letter state abbreviation.

    state!ky or state!tn

Note: You cannot use a single index term to modify multiple search terms (e.g. state!ca, nv). Rather, you must precede each search term with the appropriate index term, as in "state!ca or state!nv".

Multilevel Search Expressions

You can create complex, multilevel search expressions in the Keywords or Agency field, but you must enclose separate entities within each expression in parentheses, as in the following examples:

    computer<2>training and (state!ky or state!tn or state!mi)

    or

    juice? and (apple? or orange? or grapefruit or tomato*)

Viewing Search Results

After you execute your iSearch query, your results display in a separate summary screen. Your search results are sorted by posting date, starting with the most recent date.

Reviewing Article Sources

The abbreviation displayed in the Source column for each solicitation in the summary screen indicates the database from which that article was referenced. The following table lists the possible values for this column along with the solicitation type that each represents.

Source Description
awards Award notices from the FedBizOpps database
bluetops DoD Blue Tops award notices
ftx Foreign Opportunities
procure Bid opportunities (i.e. presolicitation notices, modifications, and sources sought notices) from the FedBizOpps database
small Bid opportunities from a OutreachSystems-maintained database compiled from various federal government sources.
usabid OutreachSystems's USABID database

Reviewing Article Details

To review the details of any solicitation listed in your search results, simply click its title. This displays the article details screene.

The article details screen also includes the following navigational links:

  • The Previous and Next links let you navigate between articles in your search results.
  • The Back to Summary View link returns you to the article summary screen.
  • The Refine Search link returns you to the search criteria screen.


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